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Parliamentary questions
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10 July 2020
Answer given by Mr Hogan
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-001803/2020

The impact of the Coronavirus crisis on international trade is considerable. Given the importance of international trade for the European economy with more than 35 million jobs relying on EU exports, it is of crucial importance for the EU to take measures aimed at maintaining global trade.

The Commission has been acting together with its main partners in international fora, notably in the G7 and the G20. In accordance with the Statement on COVID-19 agreed at the last Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on 26 March 2020, the EU has committed to minimising disruptions to trade and global supply chains by ensuring that export restrictions on critical medical supplies are targeted, transparent, proportionate and time limited.

In addition, the EU has encouraged its G20 partners to refrain from introduction of export restrictions or other trade distortive measures on the agri-food sector, and to ensure that ‘green lanes’ are open for transport and customs controls of essential goods(1).

Eurostat figures for the first three months of 2020 show 4% lower imports from extra-EU countries (except UK) compared to the first quarter of 2019 due mainly to a fall in energy imports (-16%/-EUR 15 billion) offset somewhat by an increase in imports of chemicals including pharma (+7%/+EUR 3.3 billion) and imports of precious metals (+EUR 2.7 billion/+33%). Textiles imports fell by EUR 1.1 billion (-4%), base metals by EUR 3.2 billion (-11%) and transport equipment by EUR 2 billion (-6%).

Exports show a small increase of 1% due to chemicals incl. pharma (+17%/+EUR 13 billion) despite a fall in exports of transport equipment (-11%/-EUR 7.1 billion). Significant falls were also recorded in exports of mineral products (-EUR 2.8 billion/-12%) and base metals (-EUR 1.8 billion/-4%).

(1)For information on the estimated general impact on EU trade of Covid-19: ‘The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global and EU trade’, Chief Economist Team, DG Trade, European Commission 27 May 2020, available at: https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2020/may/tradoc_158764.pdf
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