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WTO Report Reflects Staggering Covid-19-Related Trade Stats

7 January 2021 – While total world trade in goods declined by 14% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, imports and exports of medical goods increased by 16%, reaching US$ 1.139 trillion in value.

That’s according to the most recent World Trade Organization (WTO) report on trade in medical goods in the context of Covid-19.

Trade played a major role in meeting skyrocketing demand for products considered critical in the Covid-19 pandemic, such as disinfectants, face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, pulse oximeters, syringes, thermometers and ventilators. Global trade in these products grew by 29% year on year.

The report also looks at total imports of face protection products in the first half of 2020, which increased by 90% compared to the same period last year. Trade in textile face masks grew about six-fold and were the most traded among the different types of faces masks, despite facing the highest tariffs.  

China was the top supplier of face masks, accounting for 56% of world exports. To ramp up mask manufacturing, China leaned heavily on imports of intermediate input materials – its imports of non-woven fabric tripled in April 2020 compared to the same month of 2019, with Japan and the United States as the leading suppliers. China was also the sixth-largest importer of face masks in the first half of 2020.

Leading importers of Covid-19-critical products registered double-digit import growth compared to 2019, with France 62% and Italy 52% leading the pack.

Chinese exports of Covid-19-critical medical products more than tripled based on year-on-year data for the first half of the year, from US$ 18 billion to US$ 55 billion. Source (Freight News)