COVID Pandemic Severely Affects Trade Within Commonwealth

(CMC)— Commonwealth countries, including those in the Caribbean, are estimated to have lost up to US$345 billion worth of trade last year as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the 2021 Commonwealth Trade Review on “Energising Commonwealth Trade in a Digital World: Paths to Recovery Post-COVID”, the countries also lost US$60 billion in intra-Commonwealth trade.

The report, released here on Tuesday, provides a timely and comprehensive analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the trade and investment flows of Commonwealth member countries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll globally, substantially impacting all Commonwealth members economies and leading to US$1.15 trillion in foregone gross domestic product (GDP) in just one year. Compared to pre-pandemic growth trends in 2020, Commonwealth economies contracted by approximately 10 per cent,” the report noted.

It said that most Commonwealth countries also experienced a significant decline in overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in 2020, with a loss of US$153 billion to the Commonwealth.

“Given the linkages between trade and investment and the role of FDI in supporting cross-border trade, these disruptions could limit trade prospects for Commonwealth countries.

Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, said Commonwealth members can harness the ‘Commonwealth advantage’ to provide a post-pandemic tailwind that supports recovery, especially in small states that have been particularly hard-hit.

“We know that trade can offer positive solutions to manage the pandemic and it’s an essential tool for building back better.

“Commonwealth members can draw on the mutual support and benefits offered through initiatives such as the Commonwealth’s Connectivity Agenda, Blue Charter, Sustainable Energy Transition Agenda and our other work that helps boost trade recovery in a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable way,” she added.

The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat said that a reassuring finding from the report is that the Commonwealth trade advantage has remained strong and resilient, and is now estimated at 21 per cent, on average.

“On the investment side, this advantage has almost tripled since the 2015, to around 27 per cent,” it added.