Minister Ng announces tabling of Ottawa Group’s Trade and Health Initiative at WTO General Council

News release

December 17, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Now more than ever, Canadians rely on open, transparent, and rules-based international trade that minimizes disruptions for essential goods—especially medicines and medical supplies.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced that the Canada-led Ottawa Group Trade and Health Initiative was presented to the WTO General Council for discussion, in Canada’s continued response to the global health impact and unprecedented economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through this Trade and Health Initiative, Canada and the other 12 Ottawa Group member nations are calling for further cooperation among all WTO members to strengthen global supply chains and facilitate the flow of essential medicines and medical supplies, including vaccines, amid the current crisis.

The Trade and Health Initiative identifies a range of actions that members are encouraged to adopt. These include implementing trade-facilitating measures in the areas of customs and services, limiting export restrictions, temporarily removing or reducing tariffs on essential medical goods, and improving transparency overall.

COVID-19 knows no borders. Supporting other countries in their fight against COVID-19 and other diseases is absolutely essential to protecting Canadians and people around the world.

That is why, in addition to putting forth this new Trade and Health Initiative, Canada has contributed a total of $865 million toward the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator—a coalition of international organizations and countries overseeing the development, production, and equitable distribution of affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

Canada will continue to take a leadership role to promote rules-based trade and open supply chains, which is more important than ever in the fight against COVID-19.


“A free-flowing global supply chain is crucial for Canadians and people around the world to access life-saving medicines and medical supplies. With this new Trade and Health Initiative, Canada continues to lead on the world stage to strengthen the global rules-based trading system so that we can protect our people from public health emergencies like COVID-19 now and well into the future.”

- Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Associated links


Youmy Han
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and
International Trade

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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