United Nations issues guidance on negotiating trade agreements for increasing trade resilience in times of crisis and pandemic


The United Nations has released a first version of a Handbook on Provisions and Options for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic. Work on the handbook was initiated by ESCAP, UNCTAD and other UN Regional Commissions after realizing that the hundreds of regional trade agreements in place provided no guidance to countries on how to keep trade going during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, especially during the first half of 2020, many countries took ad-hoc unilateral measures that seriously disrupted international supply chains, including supplies in essential goods, such as medical equipment as well as food.

The Handbook is based on inputs collected from a wide range of experts, including from WTO, civil society, academia and the private sector, under the Global Initiative on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and other Trade Agreements (IMP). It is a living document, which will be updated based on feedback from users and as new lessons learned emerge.It is freely accessible at:

Along with the Handbook, the UN also has made available a free online self-paced course based on the Handbook. Everyone interested can take the short course and get the certificate upon completion of online testing requirements at Professors and teachers of international trade law and development are welcome to integrate the short course in their own programmes. ESCAP, UNCTAD and other UN Regional Commissions will also organize facilitated global and regional courses based on the Handbook starting later this year.