A discussion on the response to COVID-19 and how trade policy can both contribute to or complicate a public healthcare response like the one we are experiencing right now.
Stephen is Executive Director of the New Zealand International Business Forum, former executive director of both the NZUS Council and NZ China Council, and a former ministerial trade adviser and diplomat.
Here’s the issue, in the current coronavirus context few nations are able to produce all the medical supplies they need to respond effectively to this pandemic and many nations will face shortages, especially as healthcare systems come under greater pressure. This means governments must go abroad to source these medical supplies and that’s where trade policy comes into play.
We see this currently with PPEs - Personal Protective Equipment - where some governments are hoarding these essential supplies, going on global buying missions, building stockpiles and/or limiting exports where they have a local manufacturing capability.
This raises immediate questions over how we can keep the trade in these essential supplies flowing in order to effectively respond to the healthcare crisis before us. It also raises more longer-term questions on how do we avoid the emergency protective measures that have been rolled out in nations all over the world becoming entrenched, and what changes will need to be made to supply chains to diversify risk and reduce vulnerabilities.
We look at these questions and others during our discussion.
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