Director-General Roberto Azevedo of the World Trade Organization (WTO) recorded a video message from his residence, in which he urged nations to brace for an economic downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic that could be worse than the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
"Recent projections predict an economic downturn and job losses that are worse than the global financial crisis a dozen years ago," the director-general said in a video message posted on the WTO website.
Azevedo observed that "no country is self-sufficient" and pointed out that trade will have an important role in overcoming the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trade official noted that concrete forecasts are not available at the moment but WTO specialists expect "a very sharp decline in trade".
The 2007-2008 crisis resulted in a global recession and weakened developed economies. At a minimum, an estimated 50 million people were made unemployed after the crisis, according to the World Bank.
Currently, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has seen the postponement or cancellation of thousands of national and international events throughout the world, causing sharp drops in global air travel due to the imposition of quarantines, and the results of an ongoing oil price war and a steep dive in the world's investment sphere, amid others hardships.
Currently, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has eclipsed 414,000 worldwide, and over 18,000 have died, according to the most recent WHO data.