WTO stresses need to improve COVID-19 trade reporting
Email Alyssa Aquino
“href =” https://www.law360.com/articles/1400046/# “> Alyssa Aquino
Law360 provides free access to its coronavirus coverage to ensure that all members of the legal community have accurate information in this time of uncertainty and change. Use the form below to subscribe to one of our weekly newsletters. By subscribing to one of our section newsletters, you will participate in the weekly coronavirus briefing.
Law360 (July 2, 2021, 5:23 p.m. EDT) – The World Trade Organization has called on members to improve the way they collect trade data related to COVID-19, saying it “remains difficult” or sometimes impossible to obtain the information needed to facilitate the distribution of vaccines and other products needed to fight the pandemic.
The WTO secretariat explained on Thursday that information on trade in COVID-19 control products is available, but far from detailed enough to inform policy decisions.
“Members currently lack, and unless action is taken, will continue to lack the right tools to have detailed and accurate measurement of the products that matter, risking having to make decisions with vague or insufficient information. “, he added. the WTO said in a brief briefing note.
The WTO partly attributed the lack of information to the Harmonized System, the six-digit code system that participating countries use to classify goods. Under it, large swaths of products are grouped under the same code, including COVID-19, influenza and chickenpox vaccines, all of which are classified as âvaccines for human medicineâ.
Relying on the codes will likely lead to “gross overstatements” in global trade in essential items, the note said.
The WTO also blamed non-standard tariff subcategories designed by members, noting that Canada listed face shields for hazardous work and Kenya listed floats for fishing nets under the same international code for hazardous work. âPlastic face shields that cover more than the eye areaâ.
“Even if the data were available at a more detailed level, without a consistent approach for establishing the national subdivisions, it would still not be possible to obtain an accurate and reliable overall estimate for the products targeted at a level beyond of the six-digit HS level, “the WTO said.
The organization has prescribed a handful of “quick and decisive” steps members could take to address the information gap, such as requiring business officials to record business information about the pandemic themselves.
The WTO has also suggested a series of medium-term measures for members. Among other things, he proposed multilateral monitoring of a common list of essentials, and that public-private partnerships collect as much trade-related information as possible.
“It is essential that members find a viable approach as soon as possible so that they can start compiling relevant data for 2021,” the WTO said.
–Edited by Adam LoBelia.
For a reprints of this article, please contact [email protected]