Caricom trade ministers to discuss COVID19 vaccines

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Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon to lead Trinidad and Tobago delegation to participate virtually in regional trade policy discussions at 52nd Ministerial Meeting of the Trade and Economic Development Council (COTED) from June 1 to 2.

This was said in a press release from the ministry.

Discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on a proposed waiver of intellectual property rights for patented pharmaceuticals, including covid19 vaccines, will be high on the agenda.

The proposal was raised at a WTO meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

A May 5 Voice of America report said the waiver proposal was first raised by India and South Africa last October.

The proposal calls for a temporary lifting of patent rights held by the pharmaceutical companies that developed the vaccines.

Proponents of the proposal say the waiver will allow faster manufacture of anti-covid19 vaccines for use in developing countries, where vaccination rates are lower than in richer countries.

But pharmaceutical companies say granting the waiver could hamper future innovation and will not lead to rapid production of coronavirus vaccines.

The Prime Minister, in his capacity as President of Caricom, has repeatedly referred to the inequity of access to covid19 vaccines by developing countries.

At a press conference at the St Ann’s Diplomatic Center on Saturday, Dr Rowley announced that 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine will come from Grenada on Sunday and a second shipment of doses of the Sinopharm vaccine will soon arrive from China to TT.

Other topics to be discussed at COTED include a review of the rules of origin and the common external tariff under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which is the agreement that guides trade in the region and engagement with States not members of Caricom.



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