Export Restrictions During Global Health Crises: The International Community Can and Must do Better

35 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020

See all articles by Laura Puccio

Laura Puccio

European Parliamentary Research Service

Andre Sapir

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES); Bruegel; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

COVID-19 represents one of the biggest pandemic faced by humanity in recent times, spreading to almost all countries and territories on all continents. Because it spread so suddenly and quickly, COVID-19 produced an unparalleled increase in demand in personal protective equipment, medical products and devices, which far outpaced the ability to increase supply. The outcome was a shortage in these products, which lead several countries to introduce export restrictions. This paper offers a legal and economic assessment of these export restrictions and argues that the current international rules – administered respectively by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – are ill-suited to deal with critical shortages that are likely to arise during, or at least in the early days of, a pandemic. Absent better rules and greater international cooperation, there was no alternative to the proliferation of export restrictions. The paper proposes the establishment of a new normative framework involving both WHO and WTO to avert supply shortages and export restrictions during a pandemic.

Keywords: Export restrictions; pandemic; COVID-19; WTO; WHO; 2005 International Health Regulation; supply shortage

Suggested Citation

Puccio, Laura and Sapir, Andre, Export Restrictions During Global Health Crises: The International Community Can and Must do Better (October 2020). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2020/66, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3711484 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3711484

Laura Puccio (Contact Author)

European Parliamentary Research Service ( email )

Brussels
Belgium

Andre Sapir

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

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Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 2345/4 (Phone)
+32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Bruegel ( email )

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B-1210 Brussels Belgium, 1210
Belgium

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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