Covid-19 and the Global Trade: Export Bans and the Limits of International Trade Laws

Aanya Anvesha and Aryan Sharma
Institute of Law, Nirma University, India.

Volume III, Issue VI, 2020

The covid-19 virus has severely hit the global economy including trade. To curb its spread, world economies haphazardly implemented nationwide lockdowns which ultimately lead to a dramatic decrease in supply and an enormous upward shock in demand for “pandemic-special goods”. The virus gave rise to an atmosphere of panic, fear, and uncertainty and prompted nations to hoard goods like medical equipment and supplies on a wide scale and started putting in place various export prohibitions and restrictions which shook the foundations of world trade. Export Bans have serious consequences, especially for poor countries who are rendered incapable of securing essential products handy in combating the virus for their people. Examining the current WTO and GATT laws, unilateral imposition of trade restrictions by a country is within the ambit of such laws. However, what is disturbing is the lack of cooperation in the international community and disregard for import-reliant countries while introducing such restrictions. This paper aims to highlight how export restrictions negatively impact global trade and the economy. It would also discuss the inadequacy and loopholes of international trade laws to address a pandemic like situation and additionally, how the WTO and international community can avoid such a scenario in the future.