World Trade Organisation

Australia’s COVID-19 tracing app has privacy rules that Australia rejected in the draft Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore

April 30, 2020: Australia’s Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has issued a directive about the new COVID-19 tracing app to reassure users that their privacy will be protected, and their data will not be abused.

The government claims that the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) Determination 2020, Section 7 states that the data must be stored in Australia.

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.

293 community Groups Call on World Trade Organization to stop other negotiations and focus on access to life-saving medical supplies

Media Release April 20, 2020:  “AFTINET is among 293 organizations, including global and national union federations, development advocates, women’s groups, consumer and environmental groups from more than 150 countries that have endorsed a letter to government members of the WTO.  The letter urges members of the WTO to stop all trade negotiations during the COVID-19 outbreak and refocus on ensuring access to medical supplies and saving lives,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

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.

WTO not dead yet: alternative appeals body set up, but fundamental change needed

December 18, 2019: For the past two years the US Trump administration has imposed unilateral tariffs outside of the rules of the 164-member World Trade Organisation. The WTO, although it has many flaws, is the only multilaterally-agreed rules-based trading system. WTO rules are enforceable through government-to-government disputes, heard by disputes panels whose initial decisions can be appealed to ensure they conform with WTO rules.

New article says e-commerce rules could reduce corporate tax, undermining efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals

October 3, 2019: A new article by Deborah James from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows how e-commerce rules in the WTO and other trade deals could limit developing countries’ ability to tax the business activities of transnational corporations, reducing much needed revenue for public services and the development of decent employment and to fund their digital industrialisation.

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