Covid protectionism to keep secret
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As a communication strategy, this is obviously very strange.This Revised proposal Soon after a global health summit was held in Rome, a campaigning non-governmental organization issued a statement asking a large developing country caucus to abandon the Covid-related intellectual property rules of the World Trade Organization.
It’s not just that the timing is immature. The proposal, led by India and South Africa, aims to improve their requirements since October last year, sparking a heated debate and prompting the United States to support patent exemptions in principle.But no matter what the underlying problem is, we Moderate support For political economic considerations, the narrowly defined immunity was abandoned-the new proposal is not the basis for a compromise with the United States, let alone a skeptical WTO member like the European Union.
It is still unrealistically widespread. It covers not only patents, but also more types of IP (copyrights, trade secrets), and applies to the following categories: “Health products and technologies, including diagnostics, treatments, vaccines, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, their materials or components, and Their methods and means are used to prevent, treat or contain Covid-19 products.” I mean, come on. This exemption is actually unlimited, because it requires the consensus of member governments to end. If and when the United States shows its waiver, there will be a gap in the proportion of the Milky Way.
I’m sorry to say that because we think the original proposal started a useful debate, it sounds like a grand move designed to blame other governments when it fails. Any negotiation based on this will last for months or years. You might think that the suggestion is objectively reasonable. You cannot say that this is politically realistic.
Today’s main topic is still vaccines, but please bear in mind our point of view last week The conversation needs to be transferred from the IP, and despite what we just wrote, we will try to do it without mentioning patents. Wish us good luck. Chartered waters The impact of insufficient production at the Serum Institute of India on the global vaccine supply was studied.
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Okay, so I won’t mention the word p anymore today. It rhymes with “lurking”. Instead, we will study how old-fashioned trade restrictions on vaccines and other medical products have allowed us to reach this point. This is of course closely related to the entire IP/technology transfer issue. Why urge pharmaceutical companies to move vaccine production to low-capacity regions like sub-Saharan Africa? Because these countries cannot trust the governments of rich countries (or India) to keep trade open. Even global distribution of medicines from some high-yield manufacturing centers is the most effective model.
Politically, the large-scale public quarrel over export restrictions has disappeared. The European Union managed to increase its vaccine supply dramatically, so the resentment against the UK’s delays in domestic production and the underproduction of AstraZeneca has quelled. However, although official export restrictions and other restrictive measures have been reduced, the actual level may be much higher.
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala), who appeared in front of the European Parliament’s Trade Committee last week, said that the number of export restrictions related to the coronavirus has fallen from 109 at the beginning of the pandemic. To 51. The export ban on masks has been revoked. However, in addition to formal legal restrictions, countries have many ways to prevent exports, and the WTO does not necessarily have to record them.
This Global Trade Alert The (GTA) program monitors all kinds of trade protectionism. It believes that the current export restrictions on medical products are more than twice those recommended by official statistics, and there are 66 (and increasing) measures to curb imports. The chart below highlights some of the most serious offenders, including most of Europe and large emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Argentina.
The WTO has not deliberately ignored the reality: its secretariat has limited powers and can only force countries to report trade restrictions related to Kovic, and can do more.Bernard Hoekman, a professor at the European University Institute, explained this case well in Chapter 2 of this report. Excellent collection The idea of ??improving the multilateral system also provides more details about actual and documented limitations. Transparency will not deter shameless governments, but it may limit those that care about public opinion.
Speaking of which, where is the government that will restrict the protectionism associated with Covidi by enacting binding rules? As shown in the figure, the problem is that few innocent countries can draft meaningful agreements on transparency and free trade without counterfeiting. The EU is proud of the transparency and limited use of the export restriction system.But although it’s not as bad as the U.S. National Defense Production Act, The EU still Accused of crime Implement de facto export restrictions by preventing the company from obtaining export licenses (this accusation was denied).
Variety National horoscope A statement has been issued, but no binding commitment has reached critical mass. G20 sends out one of the usual signals Ambiguous bromide Last March: We suspect that many trade ministers are worried about their loyalty.The “Ottawa Group” (designed to represent WTO members) composed of 13 like-minded countries has been talking about the world Health and Trade Initiative Since last June, but Failed so far Make any specific promises. This is not surprising: GTA founder Simon Evenett of the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland estimates that since the beginning of the pandemic, the Ottawa Group countries have imposed export restrictions on medical products by more than 40%.
Simultaneously, gaggle For a year, some of the free trade teacher pets (New Zealand, Chile, Singapore) have been issuing statements against medical protectionism. Some of their governments will try to promote this issue through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, but the forum has not achieved much for some time.
To be fair, it is difficult to draft binding rules. WTO laws provide a wide range of leeway for the government to stop exports in emergency situations. But so far, we have not seen too many attempts, nor have we seen any fundamental expansion of transparency. At the same time, for any government that relies on foreign Covid medical supplies, old-fashioned trade protectionism in commodities is a risk.
We did it. We passed the main article on the trade secrets of Covid drugs without mentioning the word p. From the relative concerns, you might think that the issue of trade restrictions is trivial and has greatly diminished importance, but some aspects of it seem unbearable.
The second wave of epidemics in India is having a huge impact on vaccine supply in other developing economies. Serum Institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, headquartered in India, and is a program supported by the World Health Organization to provide patients with needles. The company no longer exports any doses of AstraZeneca and Novavax contracted by Covax. The poorest country in the world.
As the British “Financial Times” Reported last weekThe Serum Institute said that after the ban may be lifted in June, it now plans to extend its freezing period to the end of this year. The above chart highlights the possible impact this may have on the Covax plan, delaying the delivery of about half of the vaccine expected in the third quarter, while the expected supply in the final quarter was slightly reduced by half. Claire Jones
Peter Ungphakorn, a veteran of the WTO Secretariat Nice twitter thread About why Intellectual Property ExemptionThe form submitted on Friday will be politically unpleasant. We will also recommend this interesting paper-from Bernd Lange, Chairman of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament, set off One EU-China trade strategy . Given the rise in anti-Chinese sentiment there, it is worth reading.
Global Tax Agreement G7 appeared Close to an agreement On how to levy taxes on multinational companies. That was after the United States expressed its willingness to reduce the globally agreed minimum percentage from 21% to 15%.
Supply chain dilemma This leads to price increases and concerns about inflation. Martin Sandbu debate Worry too high, these cost pressures are unlikely to prove stubborn. Indeed, once the deadlock is relieved, we can see a flood of cheap goods into the market.
Nikkei Index Great reading ($, subscription required) about how the world is sailorHard hit by the pandemic, due to travel restrictions, many people are trapped on the boat or stay on the boat month after month.The coronavirus crisis in India is influences Taiwanese manufacturer Anxious to reduce its dependence on China, China had hoped to use China as an alternative production base. Alan Beattie and Claire Jones
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