Travel ban, border closures directly affected trade in goods, services: WTO

Travel restrictions and border closures imposed by countries as part of the initial policy response to contain the spread of coronavirus have directly affected trade in goods and services, according to an information note of the WTO.

These restrictions and closures have disrupted freight transport, business travel and the supply of services that rely on the presence of individuals abroad, it said.

It added that travel restrictions are likely to account for a substantial increase in trade costs for as long as they remain in place.

The note has examined the pandemic’s impact on key components of trade costs, particularly those related to travel and transport, trade policy, uncertainty, and identifies areas where higher costs may persist even after the pandemic is contained.

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“Travel restrictions and border closures have been an important part of the initial policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and these measures have directly affected trade in goods and services,” the note said.

It added that while sea and land transports have not faced comparable shocks, maritime transport has seen a decrease in numbers of sailings, while international land transport has been affected by border closures, sanitary measures and detours.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a Geneva-based multilateral body that deals with issues pertaining to global exports and imports. It has 164 members. India has been a member since 1995.