WTO hopes for speedy deal on vaccine-sharing
15 June 2021 | Economics
I'm in a hurry and I want us to get some agreement by July because lives are important. - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, DG: WTO
"It's going to be tough because there are still differences but we hope we can get to a pragmatic approach," WTO director general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told a virtual UN forum.
"I'm in a hurry and I want us to get some agreement by July because lives are important," she said.
She called on WTO members to reach a deal on improving access to Covid-19 vaccines after months of talks on waiving drug firms' intellectual property rights. Most developing countries support the waiver but several wealthy countries remain strongly opposed, saying it will deter research that allowed Covid-19 vaccines to be produced so quickly.
Okonjo-Iweala also said trade barriers related to medical supplies used against Covid-19 had risen and urged member states to drop them, as it intensified efforts to reach a deal on vaccine-sharing.
"The trend is going in the wrong direction," she said, referring to barriers on goods trade related to the pandemic.
"We need to bring those restrictions down so we can move ... medical goods and supplies and vaccines [faster]."
She said the number of trade restrictions was 109 at the start of the pandemic early last year, and had later fallen to 51 but had since risen again to 53. – Nampa/Reuters