Three ways Covid-19 should change our approach to trade agreements

September 28, 2021

As the world continues to wrestle with the Delta variant infection spikes, epidemiologists warn that Covid-19 is unlikely to be the last zoonotic pandemic we face. In fact, as humans continue to encroach on natural habitats, we should anticipate an increased frequency of new zoonotic diseases, each with the potential to evolve into global pandemics.

Our approach to trade agreements likewise needs to evolve in order to reflect this unfortunate new public health reality.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) is trying to improve our understanding of how this new landscape should be addressed in trade agreements. UNESCAP is coordinating development of a handbook on model Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) provisions in times of crisis and pandemics. The guide is chockfull of practical suggestions and options for trade negotiators to follow. [1]

While we are still assessing the fallout from the pandemic and weighing measures to mitigate its consequences, it’s already clear that our approach to trade agreements needs to change in three important ways.