Back Extra-EU trade in COVID-19 related products


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To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world have taken a variety of restrictive measures, which have negatively affected international trade in goods, with a few noteworthy exceptions.

Among these are goods used in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic: sterilisation products (incl. disinfectants), medical vehicles and furniture, protective garments, diagnostic testing equipment, medical devices, oxygen equipment and medical consumables, or so called ‘COVID-19 related products’.

In March 2020, extra-EU imports of COVID-19 related products increased by 2% compared with March 2019, in contrast to trade in other similar products (see methodological note), which fell by 5%.

Over the same period, extra-EU exports of COVID-19 related products increased by 18%, while extra-EU exports of other similar products fell by 6%.


Trade in COVID-19 related products

Source dataset: DS-1180622


Extra-EU exports of COVID-19 related products increased at a higher rate in March 2020 than in January and February 2020, while extra-EU imports of these products in March increased at a lower rate compared with January and February. This could be because EU Member States had by then acquired large enough stocks or because local production had increased and reduced the need to import.


Sterilisation products recorded highest increase in imports

Despite the economic downturn and a decrease in total extra-EU trade, trade increased for almost all types of COVID-19 related products in Q1 2020.

Extra-EU imports of sterilization products recorded the highest increase (+46% compared with Q1 2019) amongst COVID-19 related products, while the highest increases for extra-EU exports were recorded for medical consumables (+18%) and diagnostic testing equipment (+17%).


Trade in COVID-19 related products by category

Source dataset: DS-1180622


Methodological notes:

  • This news item compares COVID-19 related products to products in the same chapter of the Harmonised System (HS) product classification, i.e. they are compared to other similar products that are however not directly used in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It should be noted that most COVID-19 related products cannot be precisely identified and they are grouped together with products not specific to COVID-19. Nevertheless, some trends can be observed.
  • These products were selected based on an indicative list elaborated by the Commission in the framework of Commission Decision N° C(2020) 2146, on the basis of a joint WCO/WHO list for COVID-19 medical supplies. More information can be found in this document.


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