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World Trade Organization Head Warns of Deepest Recession ‘Of Our Lifetimes’ in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo speaks at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, December 10, 2019. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

On Wednesday, World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo warned of a massive global recession following the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we face what may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes, we should aim to make the most of all potential drivers of sustainable growth to reverse this situation,” Azevedo said during a virtual news conference from Geneva.

The WTO predicted a drop in world trade by 13–32 percent due to effects of the pandemic, giving a wide range to its forecast because the pandemic’s long-term effects are difficult to discern.

“These numbers are ugly — there is no getting around that,” Azevedo said in a statement. “But a rapid, vigorous rebound is possible. Decisions taken now will determine the future shape of the recovery and global growth prospects.”

The WTO said global trade could rebound in 2021 by between 21-24 percent, depending on the conditions of the pandemic. Trade was already down by 0.1 percent in 2019 from the previous year, in part due to a trade war between the U.S. and China.

The pandemic has led multiple countries to close businesses in order to prevent large gatherings of people, which in turn has led to disruptions in the global supply chain of goods. Multiple U.S. politicians have called to reduce American dependence on certain goods, including medical supplies, that are made in China, which could further affect the global economy in unclear ways.

Within the U.S., economic disruptions led Congress to pass a $2.2 trillion economic relief package.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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