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Three simple things Australia should do to secure access to treatments, vaccines, tests and devices during the coronavirus crisis

April 22, 2020:  Deborah Gleeson and David Legge argue in The Conversation that patents and related intellectual property rights can present formidable barriers to procuring medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests and medical devices.

They can cost lives, particularly during a public health emergency. the Australian government can do three things to tackle these barriers.

Centre Alliance calls on federal government to use its purchasing power to support local jobs in corona virus response

April 17, 2020: Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick today called on the federal government to give greater weighting to the criteria of Economic Benefit to Australia in existing Commonwealth Procurement Rules so that the benefits of local employment can be fully valued and used to improve opportunities for local firms.

Governments push to regulate Big Tech companies amid COVID-19 economic shock

April 15, 2020: India imposed a sweeping new tax on digital goods and services on April 1, 2020, closely followed by an Indonesian move on April 7. Both countries noted the rapid increase in online activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns on physical contact between people.

The Indian government used its 2020 Budget to impose the 2 per cent tax on all goods and services sold online in India by companies that do not have a taxable presence in India. The threshold for sales is low, at US$267,000.

Australia needs to step up medical aid for Pacific Island nations

April 2, 2020: Australia’s policy to the Pacific Island nations has been erratic over the last decade. The focus from 2009 was to impose the PACER-Plus free trade agreement onto the region. Negotiations dragged through to 2017, but three years later it has still not been ratified by most Pacific Island Countries and is not in force. The COVID-19 pandemic underlines the need for a profound re-think of the relationship.

Fast-tracked Singapore digital deregulation agreement completed, but text will be secret until after signing

March 30, 2020: Australia and Singapore concluded the text of a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) on March 23. There is a summary on the DFAT website but the full text will not be released until after it has been legally checked and signed, which could take at least 1-2 months.

The agreement will replace the e-commerce chapter in the Singapore-Australia FTA.

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