The 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic has prompted civic and business leaders to rethink the global strategy in terms of emergency medical response.
One of the primary concerns of public health experts is the short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) that threatened the ability of frontline healthcare workers to safely perform their lifesaving work during the pandemic.
In fact, governments around the world desperate to grab the remaining PPE for their respective medical communities began asking their citizens to avoid purchasing PPE for themselves. Some even released false information that n95 respirator masks do not prevent the spread of disease in an effort to curb private purchases.
75 nations around the world instituted harsh checks on exports of crucial medical equipment, prompting panic among public health officials desperate to stockpile the resources to battle the outbreak in their home countries.
The medical supply shortage created a number of negative effects that rippled throughout the interconnected global economy. Manufacturers were accused of price-gauging, and private entities began hoarding PPE for resale purposes at exponentially higher prices than their fair market value.
A new global agreement could alleviate the issue in the future, were another pandemic to break out. The agreement basically mandates that PPE vendors accept temporary restrictions on how much and where they can export medical supplies in times of crisis in exchange for promises from import countries to reduce or eliminate tariffs.
In this scenario, public health infrastructures benefit from guaranteed access to medical equipment while manufacturers benefit from the reduced barriers that governments around the world place on their products.
One of the primary anticipated effects of the proposed global agreement is to increase stability. Volatility, panic, and uncertainty largely drove the hoarding of medical supplies seen during the COVID-19 outbreak. Functioning markets with fair exchanges require a degree of stability and predictability. The proponents of this global agreement believe that it provides this much-needed stability in the form of a trade framework.
The proposed agreement is part of a much larger multilateral international process to develop a better, more integrated, more effective coordinated response. The globalized nature of supply chains and ever-increasing rates of international travel mean that nations are more reliant on one another than ever, in terms of protecting the health of their populations from infectious diseases.