Experts endorse multilateral cooperation in post-COVID-19 era

Experts from various international institutions voiced their support for multilateral cooperation in the post-COVID-19 recovery period at an online event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter.

Only through cross-field, -department and -era cooperation can countries around the world reach their sustainable development goals, said Nicholas Rosellini, UN resident coordinator in China, at Wednesday's forum.

"We are now facing the most severe challenge since World War Two," he said, referring to the widespread coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, over 9.2 million people around the world have contracted the deadly virus, and 477,000 have died from it. The global pandemic has not just threatened people's health and safety, but brought economic activity to a near-standstill as countries imposed restrictions on travel and work.


People stand inside circles drawn to show social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting for the bus in Rwanda.(File photo: Agencies)

Based on the World Bank's analysis, global GDP in 2020 could see a 5.2 percent contraction, the deepest global recession in decades. Thus, encouraging the gradual resumption of work with thorough forms of protection should be welcomed in order to get normal life back on track as fast as safely possible.

What happened recently in Beijing could potentially be a model, said Zhu Min, former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Zhu mentioned a "four-T" method: testing, tracing, tracking, and treatment. "From this setup, we can immediately examine those who had close contact with the confirmed cases while effectively preventing a further spread within the community," he explained.

Free trade deal needed to improve global public health system

This pandemic made it clear that the world needs to improve the global public health system, Zhu pointed out, speaking of the initial phase when most countries were in desperate need of medical resources.

"During the pandemic outbreak, ventilators became a rare product everywhere. Many countries started to buy them from China, yet the whole manufacture of ventilators probably requires work from 140 companies at the cost of 50,000 RMB (7,070 U.S. dollars) each," he said. "Thus we need companies from China, South Korea, the United States, Switzerland, and many others to work together."

"And I think the medical equipment sector should realize what we need is a very versatile trade policy. It can be a tax-free policy or something that guarantees fast cross-border transaction and transportation," Zhu said.

In addition, Zhu also spoke highly of China's role in the COVID-19 recovery.

China is a firm supporter of multilateralism

China has embraced initiatives that call for global cooperation, the ex-IMF leader said.

Martin Raiser, country director of the World Bank in China, South Korea, and Mongolia, echoed the sentiment, and specifically focused on China's efforts in poverty alleviation.

"We need forces like China to rein in and get our development standards, to set [them] as the consensus reached by all", he added.