Enterprise Greece hosts webinar on “World trade and protectionism in the post-COVID era”

Friday, 16 October 2020

Athens, 16 October 2020 | Ιn a special webinar organized earlier this month by Enterprise Greece, representatives and experts from the European Commission, WTO, BusinessEurope, International Trade Centre and Wold Bank joined the online discussion on "Protectionism in international trade in the post-COVID era" and provided up-to-date information and analysis of emerging protectionist trends in international trade, as a result of the global health crisis.

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Enterprise Greece hosts webinar on “World trade and protectionism in the post-COVID era”

Athens, 16 October 2020 | Ιn a special webinar organized earlier this month by Enterprise Greece, representatives and experts from the European Commission, WTO, BusinessEurope, International Trade Centre and Wold Bank joined the online discussion on "Protectionism in international trade in the post-COVID era" and provided up-to-date information and analysis of emerging protectionist trends in international trade, as a result of the global health crisis.


 In opening remarks, Gregory Dimitriadis, Secretary General for International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  and Chairman of the Board of Enterprise Greece, emphasized the importance of free trade -- despite the pressures and challenges stemming from the pandemic -- and the key role played by institutions in safeguarding free trade.

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Committee on International Trade (INTA), emphasized the need to keep world trade alive in response to the new crisis posed by COVID-19. She also said that the establishment of the single market has made the European Union a trade power and that its autonomy must be based on flexibility, freedom and the ability to set its own rules, always aligned with EU's fundamental values.

The first panel, moderated by Enterprise Greece CEO Georgios Filiopoulos, focused on the role that institutions can play in removing trade barriers while at the same time supporting SMEs, both of which will be critical to future economic recovery after the pandemic. In the panel discussion, Rajesh Aggarwal, Chief of the Trade Facilitation and Policy for Business division of the International Trade Centre, noted that 30% of trade-related measures taken by the G20 in the last few months were of a protectionist nature. He emphasized the importance of digitization, information and business adaptation in dealing with the crisis.

In remarks to the panel, Mariya Hake, Regional Economist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the IFC, a part of the World Bank Group, pointed out that the majority of protectionist measures taken related to exports. Those measures were mainly a reaction by countries struggling to meet the needs of local supply chains during the pandemic. In separate remarks, Kristin Schreiber, Director, DG GROW at the European Commission, focused on SMEs, noting that small- and medium-sized businesses were the ones most affected by the crisis, and therefore most in need of support measures from the EU member states.

In remarks to the second panel, moderator Betty Alexandropoulou, Managing Director and Executive Board Member of Enterprise Greece, noted recent data from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs that underscored the economic difficulties and challenges caused by the pandemic. Indicatively, European companies are expected to see combined losses of €720 billion only in 2020.

Panelist Sofia Bournou, Senior Adviser, BusinessEurope, said that the measures taken by governments have led to market fragmentation and uncertainty that affect business decisions. Following, Antonia Diakantoni, Counselor, Trade Monitoring Section, Trade Policies Review Division of the World Trade Organization, noted that economic uncertainty remains high amid continuing declines in global trade and a projected weak and uneven recovery. However, recent data show a slight improvement in the economic situation since April, she said, and so far the WTO has seen little evidence that states are turning completely to protectionist policies. In his remarks, Thomas Le Vaillant, Deputy Head of Unit, Industry, Goods, Energy, Customs and Origin, European Commission, told the panel that the crisis is an opportunity to focus on the role of international trade in economic growth, and in tackling administrative impediment and lack of transparency.

Agenda and presentations available here.

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