International trade analysis and the pandemic

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“There exists only one tool to get out of this situation caused by the pandemic: international trade and cooperation, along with clear rules that must be respected by all”. This definition was given by José Luis Manzano, president of Integra Capital, during a video conference of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, coordinated from Toronto, Canada.

During the debate “International Trade in Global Times of Uncertainty”, Manzano described that the current global context is negative, the world “is in the middle of the pandemic, there is still time remaining until it finishes.”

Consequently, he established a clear division: the recovery of developed countries may take a year, but for the developing ones it will probably take two years of work.

Tools and Challenges

Rachel Bendayan participated in the debate on behalf of the Canadian Department of Foreign Trade. “COVID-19 cannot be an excuse to go back on all the benefits that international trade has brought to the world,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mairead Lavery, president and CEO of Export Development Canada (EDC), said that the pandemic crisis represents an opportunity to adapt to “e-commerce and the digitalization of international processes”. These changes will remain present in the post-pandemic global agenda.

José Luis Manzano noted that government support will be necessary for the transformation of small and medium enterprises. “Those who are not prepared to properly adapt to this new reality will not be able to survive”.

Risks for world trade

On this topic, Manzano stressed that, however, “the world must overcome the threat of nationalism, protectionism and total import substitution that some leaders encourage in their countries and that can interrupt the globalized development we have achieved in almost 100 years”.

To this end, he recommended that clear trade rules be maintained. “It is the best tool we have to resolve the asymmetries that exist between countries,” he said.

Both Lavery and Bendayan agreed with that statement; Canada is a country with a small domestic market that has developed thanks to the expansion of international trade.

Avoiding “a dark winter”

“We must uphold the global market,” said the president of Integra Capital. Otherwise, he warned, it will be a “dark winter for everyone”. He emphasized that the clear rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) must be supported, along with sustainable development in the new forms of the economy.

José Luis Manzano reassured that “we will get out of this,” but he again specified that “clear rules of international trade must be protected to recover a better world.”