The World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo (L) addresses a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, April 13, 2018. The World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Thursday that the global trade is expected to remain strong, with the merchandise trade volume growing 4.4 percent in 2018 and 4.0 percent in 2019. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan) (srb)
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo (L) addresses a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, April 13, 2018. The World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Thursday that the global trade is expected to remain strong, with the merchandise trade volume growing 4.4 percent in 2018 and 4.0 percent in 2019. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan) (srb)

All meetings at the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be suspended until March 20 after a WTO staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo announced on Tuesday.

“We take the health of Secretariat staff and our members very seriously, which is why we have taken this unprecedented step,” explained Azevedo, adding that “we are monitoring the situation very closely and will take whatever measures are necessary to protect health and safety.” He said that the suspension decision would be reviewed before the end of next week. The WTO said in a statement that it has a coronavirus Task Force in place to monitor developments and is taking all precautions necessary in response to the evolving situation.

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