Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Economy

New Zealand to push for tariff-free trade of COVID-19 essentials at APEC

Some APEC nations committed last year to keep COVID-19 supply chains open and remove trade restrictions on essential goods, especially medical supplies. But there has been no firm action since.

WELLINGTON — New Zealand will use its platform as host of an Asia-Pacific trade group in the coming months to seek a global approach to coronavirus vaccinations that would eliminate tariffs on goods needed to fight coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Amid concerns that smaller nations may be left behind in vaccinating their populations, New Zealand—one of the most successful countries in curbing the pandemic—will make the proposals at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which it will host virtually this year.

“Our message is that to deal with a global pandemic like this we need more global participation,” said Vangelis Vitalis, New Zealand’s deputy secretary for trade and economy, who chairs the APEC2021 Senior Officials’ Meeting.

“Trade is not going to solve the crisis but trade can help,” he told Reuters in an interview.

New Zealand proposes making shipments between the 21 APEC members of medicines, medical and surgical equipment, hygiene products, and other goods tariff-free and easing other restrictions on their movement across borders.

The proposal would have to be agreed on in the next couple of weeks to get approved at the APEC trade ministers’ meeting in May, Mr. Vitalis said.

Some APEC nations committed last year to keep COVID-19 supply chains open and remove trade restrictions on essential goods, especially medical supplies. But there has been no firm action since.

Only New Zealand and Singapore took this further, eliminating tariffs on more than 120 products they deemed essential.

“It’s worrying that only two small countries have done that,” Mr. Vitalis said. New Zealand wants a ministerial statement listing pandemic-essential products and services, he said.

It would also ease the movement of coronavirus vaccines through air and sea ports, which has been a growing concern amid smaller nations like New Zealand who fear larger economies will buy up and control medical supplies.

Despite efforts by the World Health Organization to ensure smaller nations get their share of vaccines, experts say richer nations have been hoarding vaccines and essential goods, leaving poorer and smaller nations at their mercy for these products.

New Zealand began vaccinating border workers on Saturday, but most of the country’s 5 million people are not expected to get inoculated until the second half of the year.

Mr. Vitalis said “vaccine nationalism,” which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned against last month, is in no one’s interest.

Mutation risks mean a need to avoid “parts of the global population not vaccinated,” he said.

Although vaccine tariffs are low, there are significant charges on equipment like syringes, needles and gloves, which may impede the inoculation process.

The consensus-based APEC has struggled to reach agreements in recent years amid then-President Donald Trump’s trade war with China. Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump last month, has promised a more multilateral approach but is not expected to rush into trade deals with Beijing.

The trade-dependent host nation “would like to see APEC go broader on trade liberalization, but we have to be realistic on what is achievable this year,” said Alan Bollard, the New Zealand-based former executive director of the APEC Secretariat in Singapore.

“COVID-19 is an immediate concern—addressing it is also a chance to ride over ongoing trade barriers,” said Bollard, a former head of New Zealand’s central bank. — Praveen Menon/Reuters

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

Latest

Investing

Lowering VAT charges on fuel may be politically attractive but is not good news for those who will struggle the most, say leading tax...

Investing

An estimated 3 per cent of the workforce was signed off in late December and a fifth of businesses reported increased cancellations amid the...

Investing

Mark Zuckerberg could be forced to pay most British Facebook users about £50 each if a landmark legal action alleging that the site abused...

Investing

France has reopened its borders to British tourists after ministers in Paris eased restrictions on non-essential travel. From this morning, Britons travelling to the...

Investing

People struck down with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are buying so much paracetamol that supplies are running low in many shops. Official...

Investing

Covid Passports are to be abandoned within days after Sajid Javid effectively killed off the policy. The health secretary has concluded that Covid-19 certification...

You May Also Like

Investing

Having a good Instagram marketing agency to back up your Instagram account is an absolute must going into the new year. With competition stronger...

Economy

Ivermectin, an existing drug against parasites including head lice, has had a checkered history when it comes to treating COVID-19. The bulk of studies...

Investing

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the global population. Therefore, it is a problem that many people suffer or have suffered throughout...

Investing

As a traditionally rigid insurance industry becomes bogged down by antiquated processes and operations, a handful of industry leaders are seeking to shake things...

Disclaimer: SmartRetirementReport.com, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.