Trade Briefs

COVID-19 and the legal Measures employed to deal with the Crisis

COVID-19 and the legal Measures employed to deal with the Crisis

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06 Apr 2020

Author(s): Gerhard Erasmus

People and businesses around the world are being affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. What began as a health crisis, is now also a global economic crisis. What legal principles could apply to some of the measures being taken by governments to cope with the economic repercussions of COVID-19?

One of the lessons already evident is that unique global and regional policies and measures are required to deal with the emergency at hand and for the next wave of health crises. There have already been warnings that if this virus is not tackled as a global emergency and it mutates (which is more likely in unhygienic and crowded environments found in poor countries), it may cause a second wave of global infections.

National emergency measures are necessary as first order steps. However, much more needs to be done to deal with the present global disaster. Whether export restrictions serve a useful purpose, is another matter. Certain multilateral law principles may be invoked to justify export restrictions, but they will have detrimental consequences on disaster relief elsewhere. Export restrictions have been designed for “normal” times and are ultimately unsuitable for dealing with the present crisis.

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