This virus cannot be beaten alone—a united international response is requiredby Liz Truss / April 9, 2020 / Leave a comment
Coronavirus may well represent the biggest health crisis any of us experience in our lifetimes.
That is why the prime minister and government have been quick to act—working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan and taking the right measures at the right time.
This virus has not only impacted our national health, but it has also thrown up substantial economic challenges to the global trading system. In addition to mitigating the economic symptoms of Coronavirus, with fiscal and monetary measures, we must also deploy trade policy as one of our most effective antidotes. It is crucial that we keep trade flowing, keep supply chains open and resist protectionism.
We are already seeing that protectionist impulse appearing across the world. Restrictions on essential-to-life medical equipment are now being enforced by more than two dozen countries. While it might feel comforting in the short term, it has the potential for harm—restricting important supplies and forcing up prices, if unchallenged.
Every morning at the Department for International Trade, I speak via video link to our global team in posts around the world. They are working with their teams day and night to ensure protectionist instincts do not prevail.
Their efforts—and those of other government officials supporting British business around the world—ensure that personal protective equipment, ventilators, pharmaceuticals and other crucial supplies make it to the UK.
Hour-by-hour, it means we are in constant communication with governments, pushing procedures and helping businesses unblock customs and logistical problems.
The truth that this and other previous crises have revealed is that no country is self-sufficient. Trade is critical to us all—it ensures we have what we need to live, that the NHS gets the equipment it needs to save lives, and that developing countries can prosper.
But the call to keep trade flowing, supply chains open and resist protectionism goes beyond this immediate challenge. Maintaining confidence in international trade will be critical to the broader economic recovery in the post-Covid world.
It is because of this wider economic challenge that the UK has been doing all it can domestically to support businesses through this difficult period and in tandem make the case for free trade on the international stage.
We called for a G20 trade ministers meeting, chaired by Saudi Arabia which has the presidency, where I spoke of the need for…