Covid-19, global handel og medisinsk beredskap
During the second quarter of 2020, Covid-19 led to the second largest setback for world trade after the second world war. But the value of trade soon recovered, to a normal level at the end of the year. The pandemic hit sectors unevenly, with a strong decline for oil, industrial and investment goods, while trade in food and drugs was maintained and trade with protective and medical equipment exploded. Via the oil price, Covid-19 hit Norwegian exports harder than imports, and erased the trade surplus. During the 2020 crisis, China delivered the increase for protective medical equipment while Western Europe delivered the drugs. Western Europe has 3/4 of world exports of drugs, and for Norway, trade with Europe is an important aspect of preparedness. During the 2020 crisis, Norway benefited from European cooperation through open borders for trade; common approval of medicines; and access to vaccines. Several countries introduced export restrictions for medical goods; India also for drugs, with resulting supply problems in Norway for some items. Global vaccine distribution will be a new test for world trade, and Norway contributes financially. Globalisation of the value chains for off-patent drugs (generics) has in recent year led to frequent supply shortages, independently from the Covid-19 crisis.