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Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic on international trade inquiry launched

30 March 2020

The International Trade Committee launches an inquiry examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international trade, including how UK businesses, consumers and public authorities may be affected.

Committee Chair, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, has also written to Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, to seek further information on the Department for International Trade’s response to the pandemic.

The emergence and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus has considerable implications for global trade. Pressurised supply chains and unusual patterns of demand from consumers and public bodies for essential goods present uniquely challenging circumstances for businesses and governments around the world.

In addition to the UK Government’s package of financial support for businesses, the Department for International Trade has published specific guidance for UK businesses trading internationally and advice for the freight transport industry.

The Committee’s inquiry will examine the short-, medium-, and long-term impact of the pandemic on UK businesses trading internationally, and the Government’s response to these. It will also consider the implications of steps taken by key UK trading partners, such as restrictions on the export of essential goods, and the actions the UK Government could take to promote international cooperation and a coordinated global response to the pandemic.

Chair's comments

Launching the inquiry, Committee Chair Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis with far ranging impacts, including on global trade.

“Increased and altered demand from consumers and public bodies, combined with the potential for significantly reduced production, strained supply chains and restrictions on the circulation of essential goods such as medical supplies, presents a uniquely challenging set of circumstances for governments and businesses around the globe.

“My Committee’s inquiry has been launched with the intention of not only scrutinising the Department for International Trade’s initial response to this unprecedented crisis, but also informing the succession of critical choices that will need to be made in the coming weeks and months. These choices could have a profound impact on UK businesses, public authorities and the wider trading system.

“Of course, I recognise the pressures the Government is facing at the present time and I intend for my Committee to fulfil its scrutiny role in as supportive and collaborative a manner as possible.”

Chair writes to Secretary of State with key questions to inform inquiry

International Trade Committee Chair, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, has also written to Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, to ask questions about her Department’s response to the pandemic.

Terms of reference

The Committee welcomes submissions on some, or all, of the following points by 5pm on Friday 24 April. Submissions made prior to this deadline would be gratefully received. Submissions should be made via the inquiry page on the Parliament website.

  • What impact will the global COVID-19 pandemic have on UK businesses trading internationally, in the short-, medium- and long-term?
  • How effectively has the Government responded, both in the UK and in overseas posts, to the short-term negative impact of the pandemic on UK businesses trading internationally? What further steps could be taken to mitigate this impact?
  • What medium- and long-term negative impacts could arise from the pandemic for UK businesses trading internationally? What steps could the Government take to mitigate these impacts?
  • What steps can UK businesses take to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on international trade?
  • How best can the UK Government facilitate trade in essential goods during the pandemic?
  • How should the Department for International Trade work with the rest of central government, as well as devolved, local and regional government, to deliver a coordinated response to the pandemic?
  • How can the UK Government engage with countries at the World Trade Organization and bilateral trading partners – including those with which the UK has a significant trading relationship or one facilitating trade in priority goods – to promote international cooperation and a coordinated global response to the pandemic?
  • How might the pandemic impact global trade patterns and international supply chains in the long-term?

Further information

Image: Pixaby/coronavirus