Simon J. Evenett | 30 Jul 2021

A longstanding presumption in trade policy circles is that governments should be afforded significant discretion in responding to crises. Even so, it is recognised in the declarations of many international summits and elsewhere that there should be limits to the extent to which external stability is jettisoned in the pursuit of internal stability. This chapter presents evidence that the frequency of cross-border harm inflicted by G20 members varied considerably in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. G20 policy choice differed along a number of other critical dimensions too. Such evidence begs the question posed in the title of this chapter; the tension between internal and external stability may be more apparent than real. Technocratic work to identify trade-friendly crisis response packages should commence, providing a robust factual basis for discussions between WTO members once the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.