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Today, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier participated in a video conference of EU trade ministers debating the impact that the coronavirus crisis is having on trade policy and the first lessons that can be learnt from this.

Minister Altmaier said: "The coronavirus pandemic is a global challenge that is having a severe impact on national health systems and the world economy. Therefore, it is now crucial to come together and analyse what lessons can be learned for our supply and value chains. It is also important to counter protectionist tendencies and to promote open markets and the EU internal market. The only right response to this crisis is to step up international cooperation rather than to reduce it. And this particularly applies to trade policy.”

The video conference was used to discuss short-term measures, such as the reduction or suspension of customs duties on critical goods for combating the coronavirus, and how EU regulations on exports of medical protective equipment to third countries should be designed in the future. In addition, the conference focused on long-term measures, in particular the contribution of trade policy to stabilising markets in the future. The trade ministers stressed that it is important to continue to vigorously strengthen rule-based international trade with the WTO as its cornerstone. They further highlighted the importance of having an ambitious bilateral trade agenda, in particular with a view to diversifying trade relations, which would help reduce dependency on specific supplier countries.