The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the global trading system, affecting some countries and sectors more than others. The release of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) just weeks before the pandemic lockdowns formed an opportunity to evaluate the EU’s trade policy to support global recovery plans through circular economy opportunities.
This policy paper aims to determine the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on global economy and trade, identifying related possible opportunities or obstacles to circular economy. It outlines the current trends in global and EU trade flows with focus on sectors identified in the EU CEAP and highlights how EU trade policy can support creating global partnerships and action on circular economy, including as part of the EU and third country recovery plans.
We find that trends across EU CEAP relevant sectors vary and the effects of the pandemic over the course of the year are not always easy to identify apart from the immediate impacts of national lockdown periods. Sectors showing clearest negative impacts due to pandemic include the vehicles and textiles whereas seemingly “COVID-resilient” sectors include electronics and e-waste, and extractive industries underpinning e-trade.