International Trade Has Suffered a One-Two Punch. Can It Recover After COVID-19? – Tuck School

At the start of 2020, international trade was already under a protectionist cloud. Rising trade tensions between the US and the rest of the world, particularly China, had been in the economic headlines for three years, with US imports from China shrinking by a dramatic 17.7 percent between 2018-2019. Despite the Phase 1 deal signed between the two countries on January 15 2020, few observers saw this as the last bump in the road in this tariff war.

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has landed an unexpected and unwelcome follow-up blow to the gut, and world trade has now been left reeling like a boxer from a swift one-two punch.

COVID-19 is first and foremost a public health crisis. Our thoughts and prayers should rightly be with those who have been sickened, and with medical workers and first-responders around the world. Mulling the impact of the pandemic on international trade may seem like we are getting ahead of ourselves. But make no mistake, the imprint of COVID-19 on global trade flows is already being felt.


Chor’s current research topics include international trade, the political economy, growth, and development, and economic history.

According to data just released by the US Census Bureau, U.S. imports from the rest of the world stood at U.S. $178.3 billion (in non-seasonally adjusted terms) in February