Domestic policy tools: Minimize exposure to shocks

Regulatory flexibility


Improving regulatory systems to make them more agile and flexible when coping with crisis situations is essential to allow countries to mobilise all supply sources without undue constraints. Regulatory flexibility does not mean reducing safety or quality requirements, but rather that certain requirements can be temporarily lifted or that authorization or license procedures for essential products or services can be accelerated.

Prior to the adoption of such measures, governments need to balance the interests that are protected by an existing regulatory framework with the benefits from its temporary suspension. Such flexibility should not lead to lower standards or undermine the predictability of the regulatory environment. The legitimacy of such measures is based on their temporary nature and the specific targeting of essential products.

Policy action

  • Balance the interests protected by the requirement temporarily suspended.
  • Re-assess periodically the measure to ensure its temporality.

Note: The data provided shows the number of trade related measures recorded by the WTO Secretariate during the month of April 2020 in each given region. Data for LDCs was unsignificant and is therefore not included in the graph.
Source: Adapted from Figure 4, WTO (2020), Helping MSMEs navigate the COVID-19 crisis, WTO Information Note.

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