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COVID-19 has brought significant disruption to international trade and supply chains. Countries have massively relied on ad-hoc, unilateral measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. While some of these measures were trade restrictive and others trade facilitating, their overall effectiveness has been undermined by lack of coordination despite the existence of the multilateral trade rules and many regional trade agreements (RTAs). Accordingly, ESCAP in collaboration with UNCTAD and other UN Regional Economic Commissions, as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and experts from civil society and academia, launched the Global Initiative on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and Other Trade Agreements (IMP). This Handbook is the main outcome of the Initiative.

This Handbook explores options for provisions that could be used in future RTAs to better guide how trade could be conducted during future crises. It covers all the major rules areas in RTAs, including Essential Goods and Services, Trade Facilitation, SPS and TBT Measures, Intellectual Property Rights, Digital Trade, Transparency, and Development. The options for provisions include “baseline”, “baseline+”, and “discretionary” options, depending on the extent of obligations, protection, resilience and policy space provided by those provisions. This Handbook aims at enhancing users’ understanding of existing provisions in RTAs and guiding them in designing more tailored provisions in the future, always keeping in mind the need for trade to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development.

UN Course based on the Handbook:

More information about the Initiative is available HERE.


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