Why trade is vital to COVID-19 recovery

29 October 2020


Companies, governments and international bodies must act together to create the right conditions for trade to drive sustainable, resilient and inclusive global growth after the coronavirus pandemic.

That was the key message from HSBC Group Chairman Mark Tucker to other global business leaders at this week’s annual B20 Summit in Riyadh.

The Business Twenty (B20) represents the global business community across the world’s leading economies that make up the G20. Its remit is to foster dialogue between the public and private sectors and provide policy recommendations to the G20.

“The past few years have been challenging for global trade,” Mr Tucker said during an online panel event on ‘Building Resilient Trade Systems for Inclusive Growth’.

“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus both the critical nature of the flow of essential goods and services, and the vital contribution of trade to economic growth.”

Removing high tariffs and trade restrictions would give international trade a much-needed shot in the arm, said Mr Tucker, who is co-chair of the B20 Trade and Investment Taskforce that represents millions of global businesses.

Mr Tucker pointed to a recent report published by HSBC and Boston Consulting Group that said embracing open and fair trade could boost global GDP by USD10 trillion a year in 2025.

He added: “Global trade will be central to the recovery, and to building a more sustainable post-COVID world. It is more important than ever that we create and sustain the right conditions for international trade to thrive. Governments, businesses and international bodies must work together to ensure rules are fair, standards are aligned, and barriers are lowered.”

Inclusive growth

Mr Tucker highlighted that COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on how identifying and measuring key environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria provides a clear view of the sustainability and resilience of supply chains, and shows how vulnerable they may be.

Trade, he pointed out, has a particularly important role to play in supporting smaller businesses, but there is a need for greater access to finance to achieve more inclusive economic growth.