Multilateralism for trade and development

Protectionism was already on the rise before the world economy was struck in 2020 by the global outbreak of the COVID-19, which affected global trade through both supply and demand shocks. Merchandise trade declined in 2020, and many governments imposed barriers to exports of medical products and lowered the tariffs on imports of agricultural products to maximize the supplies of critical goods on domestic markets. The COVID-19 health crisis has introduced a new agenda for multilateralism, focused on areas including economic recovery, climate, global health, and trade. Resilient world trade is seen as an engine to build back better post-COVID world, and as an important means to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This theme on multilateralism for trade and development of SDG Pulse:

  1. Provides analysis and statistics on International trade in developing economies, including merchandise and services trade, such as tourism.
  2. Assesses progress in the special and differential treatment for developing countries and studies new developments in Towards inclusive trade in a post-COVID world.
  3. Analyses trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets and presents statistics on the links between Trade, food security and sustainable agriculture.
  4. Examines the role of Policies to promote trade (International cooperation and multilateral mechanisms), including Aid for Trade, in support of developing countries, particularly LDCs.
In a free trade, an effectual combination cannot be established but by the unanimous consent of every single trader, and it cannot last longer than every single trader continues of the same mind. The majority of a corporation can enact a bye-law, with proper penalties, which will limit the competition more effectually and more durably than any voluntary combination whatever.Adam Smith, The Wealth Of Nations
Developing countries’ share of global exports of goods and services has increased over the last two decades, but plateaued for goods at around 45 per cent since 2012, and for services exports dropped to 28 per cent in 2020.
UNCTAD, ITC & WTO SDG indicator 17.11.1
Import tariffs applied by developed countries to products from LDCs registered almost no decline since 2015 and amounted to about 1.13% in 2019.
UNCTAD, ITC & WTO SDG indicator 17.12.1
Share of zero tariffs applied to LDCs’ exports up from 54% in 2010 to 66% in 2019.
UNCTAD, ITC & WTO SDG indicator 10.a.1
Great progress in abolishing trade-distorting subsidies, with agricultural export subsidies reaching their lowest levels ever in 2018.
SDG indicator 2.b.1
Unprecedented 73% decline in commercial flights from January to April 2020 due to COVID-19. Recovery in ensuing months, but still 30% below pre-pandemic levels.

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