By Brendan Vickers & Salamat Ali, Commonwealth Secretariat
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health, economic and humanitarian crisis for the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs), including 14 Commonwealth member countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
This issue of Trade Hot Topics analyses the trade flows in medical goods that matter for the fight against COVID-19 in Commonwealth LDCs. It provides a factual mapping of medical supply chains, both within and outside the Commonwealth, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, in order to reflect on the level of preparedness of these countries to face this outbreak. It identifies the main suppliers of key medical devices and assesses potential exposure of LDCs to recent trade measures as well as other constraints such as price gouging and reduced fiscal space to import medicines. After examining three major challenges LDCs face in their response to COVID-19, it concludes with policy recommendations to ensure equitable distribution of the essential medical goods.