Global trade hit by restrictions during COVID-19 crisis - WTO

FILE PHOTO: Roberto Azevedo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), gestures during a news conference after a General Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - Global trade has been hit by new and accumulated import restrictions just as economies need to rebuild in the COVID-19 crisis, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in a mid-year report issued on Friday.

But some export constraints imposed on surgical masks, medicines and medical equipment early in the pandemic are being rolled back, it said.

“Although the full impact of the pandemic is not yet reflected fully in trade statistics, it is expected to be very substantial”, WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said in presenting the report to its 164 member states.

The WTO said last month that estimates for the second quarter of 2020 indicated a year-on-year drop in world trade of about 18%.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Potter