Trade and investment are important engines of inclusive economic growth, development and poverty erradication. For Argentina, they are critical means to integrate into global value chains, create employment and increase the competitiveness of our economy in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.
The emergence of COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation that is strongly impacting not only people's lives, jobs, and income, but also trade and investment flows. This is why our country has launched a holistic response that allows comprehensively addressing the multiple challenges never seen before of COVID-19 to health, the economy, employment, and trade. We believe that, as States, we have the primary responsibility to act in favor of the most vulnerable and to ensure the continuation of trade flows.
No country is immune. The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be deeper than that of 2008/2009, given that the health situation affects both supply (production, distribution and trade) of goods and services, as well as the demand (consumption) of the world economy.
The challenges for trade and investment are immense. According to the WTO latest figures, global trade will decrease between 13 and 32% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. According to the UNCTAD, COVID-19 will cause a Sharp decline in foreign direct investment of 30 to 40% in 2020-2021. A strong global recession is also expected, with consequent negative effects on global value chains, particularly affecting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the most vulnerable sectors.
In this scenario, international cooperation is decisive in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic on trade and investment. Global problems require global solutions. Only by working collectively can the common enemy of COVID-19 be defeated and inclusive, strong and sustainable growth achieved, without leaving anyone behind, in line with the United Nations' 2030 Agenda.
As the main forum for global economic coordination, the G20 has a central role to respond to the current crisis, just as it did in 2008, including in the area of trade and investment.
The joint actions agreed by the G20 Trade Ministers on May 14, under the leadership of the Saudi Presidency, constitute an important step to maintain trade and investment flows and to lay the foundations for a solid and balanced economic recovery.
The document "G20 Actions to Support World Trade and Investment in Response to COVID-19", adopted by consensus by all the G20 Members, contains a package of short and long-term measures to strengthen global supply chains and investments. The Argentine Delegation, led by the Secretary of International Economic Relations, Ambassador Jorge Neme, welcomed the G20 collective measures to alleviate the impacts on trade and investment of COVID-19, as today, more than ever, promoting rapid and effective international cooperation is considered essential.
It is about putting into action the commitment made by the G20 Leaders on March 26 to work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services, as well as to minimize trade disruptions. To this end, Leaders mandated the G20 Trade Ministers to assess the impact of the pandemic on global trade.
At their First Extraordinary Meeting on COVID-19, held on March 30, the Trade Ministers reaffirmed the importance of adopting measures to facilitate trade in essential goods, guarantee the continued operation of logistics networks, and contribute to the movement of health personnel across borders. They also requested the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group to identify actions to alleviate the multi-faceted impact of the pandemic, as well as to support the multilateral trading system and the economic recovery post-COVID.
Some of the collective measures agreed by the G20 Ministers, which resulted from the previous debates of the Working Group, are the following:
- ensure that any emergency trade measures to tackle COVID-19 are targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, reflect the interest in protecting the most vulnerable, do not create unnecessary barriers to trade and are consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules;
- refrain from introducing export restrictions on agricultural products, including on products purchased for humanitarian purposes, and avoiding unnecessary food-stockpiling, without prejudice to food security and in line with national requirements;
- accelerate the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, including through the streamlining of customs procedures;
- increase transparency, including through the notification to the WTO of any trade-related measure to combat COVID-19;
- strengthen the multilateral trading system in order to provide predictability to trade flows, and promote the necessary reform of the WTO;
- explore COVID-19 related WTO initiatives to promote open and resilient supply chains, and to expand productive capacity and trade in the areas of pharmaceutical, medical and other health-related products; and
- share best practices, including to promote the production and trade of essential goods and services, as well as to improve connectivity, while encouraging investments related to essential products.
Argentina is committed to putting into concrete deeds these measures, and as such, it continues to provide the world with its quality agro-food products, effectively adapting its industry to the new reality, applying strict sanitary protocols and supporting the logistics of agro-food networks. Our country has also adopted in a transparent manner emergency measures to guarantee the provision of essential medical products, such as the temporary suspension of trade remedies, elimination of tariffs and taxes on products related to COVID-19.
At the same time, the support to MSMEs and to the most affected sectors, including workers and lower-income segments, is at the core of our national strategy. A rules-based multilateral trading system is also critical to guarantee the stability of trade relations, while we need to make progress in the WTO reform, as supported for the first time in the G20 Buenos Aires Leaders` Declaration in 2018.
Today the world needs the spirit of collaboration that has accompanied the G20 since its origins. Now is the time to act in solidarity, which will allow us to emerge stronger from this crisis, including in terms of trade and investment, and to achieve sustainable development for present and future generations. "