The World Bank’s chief economist for the Latin America and the Caribbean says closing borders nation during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important question for countries.

“I think it is very important to distinguish between what you do at the borders with people and what you do with goods and services,” Martin Rama said Monday during a virtual press conference.

The press conference focused on the latest semiannual report, “The Economy in the Time of COVID-19”.

Rama said:

“It is very clear that for some time, the crossing of borders by people would be constrained until we have an easy testing mechanism.”

He said that unlike with other health crises in the past, it would not be enough to check a person’s temperature at a national border and clear them for passage.

“Until we reach that point, it is likely that for people, crossing borders will be more difficult, but it will be very important to keep the borders open to trade. We need supply chains for food to keep working, we need exports and logistics to keep working; same thing with finance in countries that offer financial services,” he said.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in capital outflows that are bigger than what was seen during the global financial crisis.

 “Maintaining the mobility of capital, maintaining the trusted mechanism of payments and exchange will be extremely important,” Rama told regional journalists.

“For us at the World Bank and for other multilateral institutions, we see these as an international agenda complimentary to the domestic agenda that will be very important to bounce back from,” he said.