26 November 2021


The 2021 edition of the WTO’s World Trade Report examines why the interconnected global trading system is both vulnerable and resilient to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, how it can help countries to be more economically resilient to shocks, and what can be done to make the system better prepared and more resilient in the future.

The report conveys three main messages: first, today’s hyper-connected global economy, characterized by deep trade links, has made the world more vulnerable to shocks, such as natural and man-made disasters, but also more resilient to them when they strike. Second, policies which aim to increase economic resilience by unwinding trade integration — for example, by re-shoring production and promoting self-sufficiency — can often have the opposite effect, effectively reducing economic resilience. And third, strengthening economic resilience will require more global cooperation, both regionally and multilaterally.

The report notes that the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive stress test for the world trading system, delivering unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains and increasing trade tensions among countries. However, the trading system has proved itself more resilient than many expected at the outset of the crisis. Although the pandemic initially led to a severe contraction in international trade flows, supply chains have rapidly adapted, goods such as essential medical supplies have continued to flow across borders, and many economies have gradually begun to recover.

Source: World Trade Organization