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Recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued a regular mid year report of the trade policy review body to review and evaluate the trade policies of its members (regions) from October 16, 2019 to May 15, 2020. The novel coronavirus pneumonia, which is a member of the WTO, has continued to affect global trade, but the general trend shows that trade policy is changing to promote imports, especially with the import of new crown pneumonia related products. During the current trade policy review period, WTO members implemented 363 new trade-related measures, including 198 trade facilitation measures, 165 trade restriction measures and 256 measures (about 71%) related to the epidemic.
During the period from mid October 2019 to mid May 2020, WTO members have implemented 56 new trade restriction measures unrelated to the epidemic situation, mainly including tariff increase, import ban, export tariff and stricter export customs procedures. The new import restrictions involve goods worth about $423.1 billion, the third highest level since October 2012. Since 2009, WTO members have been implementing and still effective import restriction measures, with a total trade coverage of 1.7 trillion US dollars, accounting for 8.7% of the world's total imports. Both figures have been rising both in terms of value of trade and as a percentage of global imports.
Novel coronavirus pneumonia is still prevalent among WTO members, but there is evidence that during the current trade policy review, WTO members adopted a policy of promoting trade and implemented 51 new trade promotion measures which are not related to the new crown pneumonia epidemic. These measures mainly include abolishing or reducing import tariffs, simplifying customs procedures and reducing export tariffs. The trade coverage of import facilitation measures unrelated to the epidemic is about 739.4 billion US dollars, significantly higher than the previous trade policy review report (mid May to mid October 2019) of 544.7 billion US dollars, the second highest level since October 2012.
As of mid May 2020 novel coronavirus pneumonia related measures were implemented by WTO members, all of which were related to export restrictions related to the outbreak of the 256 countries. In the early stages of the epidemic, WTO members implemented a number of measures that restricted the free flow of trade, but as of mid May 2020, 57% of these measures had the nature of promoting trade. At the beginning of May this year, some members (regions) began to gradually abolish export restrictions on surgical masks, gloves, drugs and disinfectants, and the relevant trade restrictions adopted in the early stage of the epidemic are also decreasing.
Although novel coronavirus pneumonia was reported in the current report, it has not yet reflected the overall impact of the outbreak on trade. During the current trade policy review period, WTO members have taken unprecedented emergency support measures to cope with the economic and social turbulence caused by the epidemic. Of the 468 recorded economic support measures related to the epidemic, most of the trade measures are temporary, including unprecedented large amounts of government grants and subsidies, related monetary, financial and financial measures, and relief measures for small and medium-sized enterprises, with a total value of tens of thousands of US dollars. These emergency support measures are at the heart of governments' strategies to deal with the economic recession caused by the epidemic and to prepare for a strong recovery.
During the period of the current trade policy review, WTO members have implemented 239 trade remedy actions, and the intensity of initiating trade remedy actions is the largest in the past eight years. Among them, the initiation of anti-dumping investigation accounts for about 80% of all trade remedy actions. In addition, there are trade protection measures and countervailing actions.
Novel coronavirus pneumonia, which is a new policy implemented by WTO members to tackle the new crown pneumonia epidemic, is mostly for trade promotion during the current trade policy review. However, some new policies involving FDI, national security and strategy related areas have restrictions on trade. 99 new measures are being introduced to deal with the new crown pneumonia outbreak.
WTO members have also implemented health and animal and plant quarantine measures and technical barriers to trade measures, the intensity and quantity of which are significantly higher than those in the previous review period, most of which are implemented by developing members. From February 1 to May 15 this year, 19 members informed the WTO of 29 health and animal and plant quarantine measures taken in response to the epidemic. However, since April this year, most of these measures have changed in nature, from initial restrictions and additional certification requirements on animals imported or transiting from affected areas to trade promotion measures, including the use of electronic certificates for quarantine inspection. As of novel coronavirus pneumonia, 14 members of the WTO announced 53 technical barriers to trade in May 15th this year, involving personal protective equipment, medical equipment and supplies, medicines and food.
In novel coronavirus pneumonia, Azevedo, director general of WTO, pointed out that a large part of world trade is still subject to new and cumulative import restrictions. This is a matter of concern when economies need to rebuild through trade under the influence of the new crown pneumonia epidemic. On the positive side, WTO members have launched considerable import promotion measures and started to reduce trade restrictions imposed in the early stage of the epidemic.