Covid-19: Shortage of PPE eases as production, trade expand ~WTO
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday said shortages of medical personal protective equipment (PPE) encountered around the world in the early phase of the pandemic have eased, as production and trade have expanded to meet the unparalleled demand spike.
The WTO said this in a new information note on how WTO members have used trade measures to expedite access to critical medical goods and services as part of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Initial data for 41 countries suggests trade in medical goods grew by 38.7 percent in the first half of 2020. Certain products remain subject to periodic shortages, with sourcing a particular challenge for some developing countries.
“Duties, taxes and charges on COVID-19 critical medical goods and other essential supplies have been temporarily removed or deferred by 40 WTO members, including 12 G20 members. These actions help reduce the cost of the goods needed to fight the pandemic, both for the health sector and for the general public. Measures to reduce or eliminate import tariffs made up around two-thirds of the import trade-facilitating measures reported to the WTO,” the report stated.
It said Customs procedures and border clearance for COVID-19 critical medical goods have been expedited by cutting back red tape.
The report stated that actions taken by members include establishing priority clearance channels, lessening and simplifying documentary requirements and electronic processing, and improving border agency cooperation. Expedited transit procedures have also helped landlocked countries improve their access to essential supplies.
“Measures related to intellectual property (IP) rights are being used to facilitate innovation in and access to COVID‑19 related technologies. Actions include sharing IP to develop treatments and allow the wider use of existing technologies, providing free access to relevant patent databases and COVID-19 specific search facilities, making available reports on COVID‑19 related patents, and facilitating the exchange of clinical trial data.
“By end July 2020, WTO trade monitoring activities had recorded some 47 COVID-19 related measures regarding trade-related IP rights taken by 24 members,” the WTO said.