Coronavirus and Protectionism

  • The shortage of medical supplies due to coronavirus continues.
  • EU nations are invoking national interests and not sharing vital medical supplies within member nations.
  • Canada is also having difficulties due to US President Donald Trumps protectionist agenda pertaining to medical supplies.

The number of infected and mortality form the coronavirus continue to rise. Thus far, the COVID-19 pandemic around the world has not been contained. However, according to Chinese media Wuhan is lifting its restrictions and starting Wednesday April 8th the high speed trains will start running again.

Nevertheless, the shortage of medical equipment and supplies has been creating tough conditions, especially for the front line workers around the globe. This scenario also invoked protectionism. This is noticed in Canada, when US President Donald Trump enacted the US Defense Production Act. The act forces manufacturers such as GM to start producing ventilators in their facilities in order to accommodate high demand due to the coronavirus strain on the ICUs across the US.

At the same time, this scenario negatively impacted Canada, who relies on US for certain supplies and created undue shortages. It also put somewhat of a strain between US and Canada international relations.

EU nations are experiencing undue hardship over coronavirus pandemic as well. The shortages of much needed medical supplies to treat patients infected with coronavirus continue to be a major issue. Many EU member nations are unwilling to share their supply of vital drugs.

The whole purpose of the European Union is to be united. However, a myriad of the 27 EU nations decided to invoke protectionist measures during this roaring global pandemic. They restricted the selling of acme face masks, medical equipment and drugs. Ironically, not so long ago populist movements (stoked partially by Russia and candidates in France like Marine Le Pen) propagated protectionism and were considered the villains of the EU. Suddenly, these same nations are hoarding medical supplies and only dealing with their own national interests. Of course, your own citizens should come first, but at the same time it produces a conundrum. In any case, economies should be contributing to support other lesser financially stable nations. Meanwhile, some of these nations are hoarding vital supplies.

News of shortages have been announced by the European Medical Agency. The major need is for antibiotics and muscle relaxers. Also, anesthesia drugs are in high demand as they are used for the people needing to be on ventilators due to coronavirus complications.

One of the hardest hit EU nations is Italy. The hospitals around the country are beyond strained. Russia has sent military personnel with supplies in order to elevate some of the congestion in the hospitals and to provide support.

Romania and Portugal seem to be named as uncooperative nations within the EU during this crisis. Yet, Romania relies on the EU for support, since the country itself is quite poor. The only attraction of Romania is as a strategic location for a NATO base. Otherwise, it is mostly a burden on the EU.

It is clear this pandemic has shown that during a time of crisis the EU is not so united after all. Hopefully, the peak of the virus soon will subside and the world can get back to rebuilding economies.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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