COVID-19 Pandemic

Biden relents on WTO, greenlights new Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

February 10, 2021: Former US President Trump made life at the top of the World Trade Organisation hard for its former head, Roberto Azevado, who left early to take a job with PepsiCo. Then Trump blocked the appointment of his replacement, who had clear majority support. Now US President Biden has cleared the way for her appointment,

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria, is likely be the first woman and first African to head the WTO when the post is filled later this year.

Online Action – Support TRIPS Waiver for COVID-19 pandemic NOW!

February 2, 2021: The next round of World Trade Organisation TRIPS Council negotiations on improving access to vaccines for low income countries by waiving certain intellectual property (IP) rules during the COVID-19 pandemic will take place this Thursday, February 4.

The proposal initiated by India and South Africa is now being officially co-sponsored by Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Mongolia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Egypt.  

WHO calls for urgent response to production failures for COVID-19 vaccines

February 1, 2021: World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a briefing on January 29, “If we hoard vaccines and we are not sharing, there will be three major problems. One, I have said it, it will be a catastrophic moral failure and two it keeps the pandemic burning and three very slow global economy recovery”.

Unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution is a humanitarian crisis and an economic loss for rich countries

January 25, 2021: The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a team of economists affiliated with Harvard University, the University of Maryland and Istanbul’s Koc University, to examine trade data across 35 industries in 65 countries, which explores the economic impacts of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The Biden Presidency trade policy: implications for Australia and the world

January 21, 2021: Incoming US President Joe Biden has immediately issued Executive Orders which reverse major Trump policies over the last four years, beginning with re-joining the World Health Organisation and plans to address deadly COVID-19 pandemic, reversing his environmental agenda including re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, cancelling his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the economy and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.

International trade agreements didn’t feature.

Crucial debate at World Trade Organisation on access to COVID-19 medicines– WHO Chief calls out “catastrophic moral failure”

January 19, 2021: The World Trade Organisation TRIPS Council is today debating again the proposal by India and South Africa, supported by 100 countries, to waive various intellectual property provisions on COVID technology. Big Pharma has defended its 20-year monopoly on new medicines and the MSF medicine access movement has rebutted their claims.

COVID-19 trade report recommends changes to local manufacturing, govt procurement and rights of international shipping crews

December 15, 2020: The Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs defence and trade policies was tabled in Parliament on December 8.

WTO postpones decision on better access for COVID-19 vaccines– no consensus, no vote

December 14, 2020: The World Trade Organization TRIPS Council failed to act on December 10, 2020, on the proposal by South Africa and India to temporarily waive some intellectual property rights, so that Covid-19 medical products and vaccines could be more easily accessible, especially for low-income countries.

Renewed pressure for TRIPS waiver on COVID-19 vaccines comes from national and global health bodies

December 7, 2020: An Open Letter from the World Federation of Public Health Associations to the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and to the UN Secretary-General is aimed at a breakthrough on access to vaccines at the December 9 session of the TRIPS Council of the WTO.

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