08:17 GMT31 May 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Trade ministers of the Group of 20 countries should eliminate or cut tariffs on the import of COVID-19 products given the financial impact the coronavirus pandemic already has had on poor nations, World Bank senior official Mari Pangestu said.

    “The G20 should eliminate or reduce tariffs on imports of COVID-19 products, as well as lower or temporarily suspend tariffs and export taxes on food and other basic goods to safeguard household incomes and business activity”, Pangestu, managing director for development policy and partnerships at the World Bank, said in remarks prepared for delivery at a virtual meeting of trade ministers from the bloc on Monday.

    Pangestu also urged G20 nations to refrain from imposing new export restrictions on critical medical supplies, food or other key products, saying that the 17 countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases were vital nodes in the global trade network. “Where such emergency measures are applied, they should be targeted, transparent, proportionate with the emergency needs, and time-bound.”

    Developing countries were also at risk due to the limited supply of medical goods, Pangestu said.

    “Global markets for the 17 products identified by the World Health Organization as key to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic are highly concentrated. The poorest countries are extremely vulnerable to policies in exporting countries, including trade restrictions on medical supplies – on top of the risk of being priced out of the markets by richer countries”, he added.

    According to the World Bank official, the COVID-19 outbreak was projected to plunge the global economy into a deep recession, disrupting supply chains and hitting crucial trade nodes.

    The World Bank also called for all bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from the members of the International Development Association. The official stated that an open and rules-based trading system would be essential for recovery and sustainable development.

    Leaders of the Group of 20 convened for an extraordinary summit on 26 March via video conference to discuss measures to protect the global economy from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. They have committed to ensuring the flow of all necessary medical supplies, agricultural products, and other essential goods and services so that global trade chains are not disrupted.

    Globally, the number of infected has reached 693,000 with more than 33,000 deaths, according to World Health Organization data

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