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WTO says world trade in medical goods grew 16.3% in 2020

Trade in medical goods

Trade in medical goods witnessed growth of 16.3% in 2020 to compared 4.7% in 2019, according to the World Trade Statistical Review 2021 issued by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

After the initial disruptions, trade has been a lifeline for access to critical goods through the pandemic.

Exports of medical products, including medicines, medical equipment and PPE, rose by more than 16%, the review said.

Trade in medical goods

“The share of medical goods in world merchandise trade grew from 5.3 percent in 2019 to 6.6 percent in 2020. Trade in medical goods increased significantly in 2020, with trade in personal protective products growing the most (+47.2 per cent),” it said.

“Medicine represented 52 percent of world trade in medical goods in 2020,” the review added.

World Trade Statistical Review looks into the latest developments in world trade, with a detailed analysis of the most recent trends for trade in goods and services.

The WTO’s annual flagship publication presents recent trends in world trade and seeks to provide statistical insights on the trade impact of COVID-19.

Global trade in medical goods hit $2.3 trillion in 2020 as the world responded to the coronavirus outbreak.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade in goods and services experienced a deep slump in 2020.

The pandemic caused merchandise trade to decline by 8% and trade in commercial services by 21% year-on-year in 2020.

With services more severely affected, the pandemic’s impact COVID-19 on goods and services differed.

Services declined by 30% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with a fall of 23% for goods in the same period.

While lockdowns led to the cancellation of flights, holidays abroad, restaurant meals, and cultural/recreational activities, the demand for essential goods remained resilient in all major economies.

Chinese exports

China, the top exporter of merchandise trade in 2020, accounted for 13% of the world’s total accounting for $2,323 billion.

China exported the largest amount of coronavirus-critical medical products in 2020.

The country shipped $105 billion worth of equipment overseas. This is almost three times the level seen a year earlier, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).



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