March 31, 2021: The Biden Administration has come under pressure from almost 100 Congressional Democrats to support the suspension of World Trade Organisation rules on intellectual property during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 23 world leaders are now proposing a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.
March 23, 2021: Australian government failure to support changes to World Trade Organisation monopoly rules on vaccines is negating its announcements about helping low-income countries to vaccinate their populations against COVID-19, according to Dr Deborah Gleeson’s article in The Conversation.
March 22, 2021: With significant problems emerging in global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the issue of vaccine prices is now emerging as another major problem for a fair, effective and rapid global vaccination program.
The World Trade Organisation rules give 20-year monopoly patents for medicines, which empowers a few global corporations to determine both supply and price, but these rules were never designed for a global pandemic.
March 19, 2021: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) between Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and the 10 ASEAN countries was tabled in parliament on March 18.
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has called for submissions by 16 April 2021, and is expected to hold public hearings in April-May.
March 17, 2021: The February 2021 action by the German energy company RWE to sue the Netherlands government using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of the Energy Charter Treaty has provoked a Dutch institute to compare investor rights under Dutch and EU law with investor rights under the 1994 ECT and the recent Canada – Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
March 11, 2021:The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTIINET) today criticised a World Trade Organisation communication co-sponsored by Australia and only six other countries as an alternative to the proposal by South Africa and India to temporarily waive intellectual property rights to enable more equitable global access to COVID vaccines.
March 10, 2021: AFTINET joined other Australian civil society organisations yesterday to urge the Australian Government to support the proposal sponsored by India and South Africa to waive certain provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 8, 2021: Australians were shocked by last week’s news that the Italian government, backed by the European Union, had blocked a shipment of 250,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Australia. Dr Deborah Gleeson, Associate Professor at La Trobe University, explains in The Conversation Australia’s role as both a contributor to this problem, and a victim of it in this case. Her article was also reprinted by the ABC.
March 3, 2021: The majority of more than 30 delegations speaking in the World Trade Organisation General Council on March 1, 2021, were in favour of the proposed suspension of rules under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, for the COVID-19 pandemic period, according to a WTO official familiar with the proceedings.
March 1, 2021: The German electricity generation company RWE filed a request for arbitration against the Netherlands on January 20, 2021, at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, based on the Dutch government's decision to phase out coal for electricity generation by 2030.