As many as 34 WTO members, including the US, the EU, China, Brazil and Namibia, have submitted 225 Covid-19 related notifications to the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, a majority covering medical goods

“The majority (68 per cent) of the Covid-19 related notifications covered regulations on medical goods such as personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. A substantial number of the notified measures were reported as temporary — generally applying for a period of six months or one year, or for the duration of the public health emergency,” according to an information note on technical barriers to trade discussions relating to Covid-19 issued by the WTO.

The note also points out that since the TBT Committee meeting in May 2020, WTO members referred to the pandemic in 54 specific trade concerns, the vast majority of which were not linked to Covid-19 related notifications or medical goods but rather addressed the significant impacts of the pandemic on members’ economies.

Members cited the impact of Covid-19 on their work in the areas of standards and regulations in general (such as the lack of capacity to analyse draft regulatory requirements), which in some cases caused delays in regulatory processes. Members also stressed the challenges faced by developing countries in addressing the pandemic due to the lack of financial and other resources.

Several members also shared their experience on Covid-19 related matters in the TBT  Committee, including trade facilitating measures and regulatory flexibilties introduced during the pandemic, technical assistance and capacity building projects, development of standards and improved access to them, and the role of accreditation.