Community groups slam delay on TRIPS waiver inclusion of Covid-19 treatments and tests

Media Release December 15, 2022: The same dynamics that slowed and watered down the decision on the initial TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) now look likely to prevent a timely decision on expanding the waiver to cover treatments and tests. Calls for an extension to the original deadline of 17 December 2022 being led by the EU, Switzerland, Japan and the UK have been slammed by an alliance of health, human rights and fair-trade organisations.

Media Release: WTO must fix unjust global access to vaccines, treatments, and tests at meetings this week

February 22, 2022 Media Release: The World Trade Organisations (WTO) this week must seize the opportunity to address the global inequity in COVID19 vaccines, tests and treatments, say vaccine equity advocates. While in Australia debate has focused on the availability of free rapid antigen tests (RATs), globally there is inequitable global access to tests, vaccines and treatments that are critical to protecting people from COVID-19.

In meetings being held in Geneva from February 23, WTO member states will be facing a self-imposed deadline of the end of February to decide on a proposal from India and South Africa supported by over 100 countries. The proposal would temporarily waive WTO rules for intellectual property monopolies on COVID19 vaccines, tests and treatments. 

Media Release: COVID-19 second anniversary: vaccine injustice continues as millions die in low-income countries and variants spread

10 March, 2022: Friday March 11 marks the second anniversary of the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we enter the third pandemic year, Australians are celebrating high rates of triple vaccination and emergence from lockdowns. But in low-income countries, only 4% have had two vaccine doses, millions are dying and new variants continue to develop. There is even less access to the new COVID-19 treatments and tests. Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) intellectual property rules, a few pharmaceutical companies control the supplies and prices of these lifesaving medicines, and have sold most vaccines and treatments to rich countries.

Media Release: Leaked proposal on WTO COVID-19 monopolies a small step but more needed for equitable global access to vaccines and treatments, say advocates

17 March, 2022: The Guardian Australia has reported that global powers at the WTO have inched closer to an agreement to waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines, a move that would allow for cheaper generic versions to be manufactured and distributed among developing nations faster. The report follows the release of a joint media statement by AFTINET and allied organisations (Public Health Association of Australia,  Public Services International,  ActionAid Australia, Amnesty International Australia) in the wake of the revelations. The full media release follows below.

Media release, 17 March 2022: Leaked proposal on WTO COVID-19 monopolies a small step but more needed for equitable global access to vaccines and treatments, say advocates

AFTINET condemns secretive process and calls for full cost-benefit analysis of India-Australia trade deal

Media Release April 2, 2022: The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network of community groups has today warned that the “early harvest” trade deal between India and Australia must be independently evaluated to scrutinise both the costs and benefits for Australia.

The signing and release of the text just before the election and is due to be called and after parliament has risen will also avoid any parliamentary scrutiny of the text until after the election.

Representing more than 60 community organisations, trade unions, environmental organisations, public health and faith-based groups, AFTINET has criticised the deal for being highly secretive, with little chance for the community to contribute to the negotiation process.

AFTINET Convenor, Dr Patricia Ranald said:

UK trade deal hangs in balance as election announcement postpones inquiry

Media Release, 11 April, 2022: The announcement of a ballot to be held on May 21 has left the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement hanging in the balance until a new parliamentary committee can be formed after the nation goes to the polls.

With the conclusion of the final sitting period of Parliament, a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties inquiry into the trade deal will now lapse and start afresh following the election, opening the possibility of further amendments to the agreement should a new government wish to renegotiate contentious clauses.

Media Release: Community groups ask ALP government for public consultation as US launches Indo-Pacific Economic Forum

May 24, 2022: US President Joe Biden yesterday launched the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), involving the US, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Others may join later.

IPEF is an initiative of the US Biden administration mainly motivated by strategic competition with China in the region, and by US domestic politics. The US is not part of the two big existing regional trade agreements. These are the Regional Comprehensive economic Partnership (RCEP) of the ten ASEAN countries plus five other countries, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership of 11 Pacific Rim countries.

Media Release: Civil society groups urge new government to support strong action on COVID-19 medicine monopolies at WTO meeting

6 June, 2022: The General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will meet from June 9 before a Ministerial Conference on June 13 to debate a waiver on monopolies for COVID-19 medicines. The original waiver proposed by South Africa and India in May 2021 would enable more equitable access to vaccines and treatments for low-income countries, but has been blocked for over a year by the UK, the EU and Switzerland, lobbied by their powerful pharmaceutical industries.

Community Groups seek public consultation as Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF) meets virtually in Washington

Media release July 26, 2022: Ministers from 14 member countries of the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) are  meeting virtually in Washington on July 26 and 27. IPEF includes the US, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Fiji.

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