Latest supply chains: WTO debate on waiving vaccine intellectual property protection continues


For the first time in a long time, World Trade Organization delegates are discussing ways in which they can have a direct impact on people’s lives.

For decades, the WTO’s agenda has generally focused on reducing international trade barriers and making trading activities abroad more efficient and predictable for businesses.

The entry of a new CEO, with a vision to deliver tangible results for people rather than businesses, has led to a heated debate on how the WTO can deliver Covid-19 vaccines to people who need it most.

This debate gained new momentum this month after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai explosive announcement that the United States would support a temporary waiver of WTO intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines.

Tai’s waiver decision, which briefly reversed the actions of Pfizer and Moderna, abruptly changed the negotiating landscape in Geneva, where India and South Africa’s long-term proposal to evade the WTO intellectual property rules were sinking.

But Tai’s about-face has not resulted in a change of opinion on the part of American allies like the European Union, Canada and Switzerland, who continue to oppose a sweeping vaccine waiver and remain skeptical that he would do anything to help get more blows to the inhabitants of the poorest countries of the world.

On the other side of the fence are supporters of the waiver led by India and South Africa. But trade negotiators in Geneva say their latest waiver proposal is a non-starter because it contains a poison pill – a sunset clause that would allow any WTO member to simply veto termination of the waiver. in perpetuity, thus making it permanent.

Seasoned WTO delegates say this provision is just a negotiating tactic aimed at securing further concessions elsewhere. But such a strategy provides a poor basis for negotiations that could ultimately backfire and leave supporters of the waiver empty-handed.

Geneva is a city for negotiators and smart negotiators recognize an opportunity when they see it. The current US administration is beating the precedent by siding with public interest groups about its domestic pharmaceutical industry.

About 20 weeks of negotiation before the WTO ministerial meeting, proponents of the vaccine waiver have a rare and increasingly shrinking opportunity. The big question is whether they are going to waste it or not.

Bryce baschuk in Geneva

Mapped territory

Import Dip, Export a recording

Declining consumer imports from the United States lead to an overall decline in shipments to arrivals; exports reach record level

Source: Department of Commerce

The United States’ merchandise trade deficit narrowed for the first time this year, as the value of exports hit a record and imports fell from a record high. The deficit fell to $ 85.2 billion from $ 90.6 billion in March, according to the Commerce Department data released Friday. The median estimate from the Bloomberg survey of economists called for a shortfall of $ 92 billion last month.

The essential readings of the day

  • Yantian Port Outbreak | A Covid-19 outbreak has partially shut down a busy southern Chinese export hub, a shutdown that could add to the already record-breaking cost of shipping goods out of Asia. In addition, a clue showed the cost of transporting goods in a shipping container. in Europe, from Asia, more than 10,000 dollars.
  • Stricter rules on subsidies | G-7 trade ministers want to tighten regulations on industrial subsidies and curb actions by trade-distorting state-owned enterprises, and they see the WTO playing a central role in solving the problems.
  • Start over | When President Joe Biden visits Brussels next month, the EU and the United States will commit to trying to end the trade disputes that have plagued transatlantic relations while also committing to work together to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Moved vote | Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer postponed the vote on passing a bipartisan bill to bolster U.S. economic competitiveness and deal with China’s rise to power as a group of Republican lawmakers delayed debate.
  • Istanbul Canal | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said construction of a multibillion-dollar canal, an alternative to Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, will begin in late June as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the country’s struggling economy .
  • Suez Suite | Talks between Egypt and the owners of the giant container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal are moving in a “positive direction,” a canal official said, as the two sides work to avoid a deadlock continues in court.
  • Order rethink | A century after automakers showed the world the value of assembly-line manufacturing, a semiconductor shortage is teaching the industry a painful new lesson in what it takes to build a car.
  • Apple’s progress | Apple, which has been criticized for the behavior of its suppliers, signaled progress among its manufacturing partners during the tumultuous year of the coronavirus pandemic by releasing a report on supply chain responsibility.
  • Post-Brexit Trade Pacts | Australia and the UK continue to negotiate plans for a free trade agreement, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said.

On the Bloomberg terminal

  • Nailed | Stanley Black & Decker is asking for a refund of duty on steel nails in light of the United States Court of International Trade’s finding that the Trump administration improperly imposed tariffs. Besides, some imports of wooden cabinet from China evade certain U.S. trade remedy rights, after the Commerce Department reconsidered the scope of the rights in response to a lawsuit brought by Ikea Supply and other importers, Bloomberg Law reports.
  • Shortage of parts | According to Bloomberg Intelligence, revenues for Quanta, Compal and other Taiwanese laptop makers may continue to rise in the second quarter, but miss consensus expectations of high single-digit year-on-year growth. other. Weak sales in April mean that PC shipments may remain constrained by material shortages.
  • Use the AHOY function to track global commodity trade flows.
  • Click HERE for automated supply chain stories.
  • See BNEF for BloombergNEF’s analysis on clean energy, advanced transportation, digital industry, innovative materials and commodities.
  • Click VRUS on the terminal for coronavirus news and data and here for maps and charts.

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