The coronavirus crisis served to demonstrate the importance of trade in services to ensure the sustainability of supply chains, and especially the importance of digital trade, according to Turkey’s trade minister. 

“A free, fair and open trade and investment environment and a rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its center carry vital importance in easing the impact of COVID-19 related-measures,” Ruhsar Pekcan told a G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting late Thursday.

The meeting addressed ways to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on trade and investment, and to help lay a solid foundation for global economic recovery based on strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth.

Pointing to the virus’ devastating impact on international trade and investment, Pekcan said it forced counties to develop innovative ideas, adding that best practices should be listed to help share them.

Pekcan also stressed the successful implementation of “contact-free” trade methods at Turkey’s border gates since the start of the pandemic, which aims at limiting person-to-person contact and so the risk of disease transmission.

“We formed buffer zones at some of our border gates where exchanges of containers and trailers are carried out without any human involvement,” she said.

The “contact-free trade” method ensured that the flow of trade continued as effectively as possible, Pekcan stressed.

She highlighted that demand for railway transportation also rose during this period.

The G20 meeting endorsed an action plan including short- and long-term responses to support world trade and investments amid the outbreak.

The short-term responses are designed to alleviate the impact of COVID-19, while the long-term actions support necessary reforms to the WTO and the multilateral trading system, building resilience in global supply chains, and strengthening international investment.

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