The World Trade Organization (WTO) warned on Thursday about the risks posed by vaccine inequality to a faster-than-expected recovery of world trade after the pandemic shock.
“Global trade has recovered faster than expected since the second half of 2020 after falling sharply in the first wave of the pandemic“, underlined Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, in his presentation of the semi-annual report on world trade to member states.
According to the organization’s most recent forecast, trading volume is expected to grow by 8% in 2021 and 4% in 2022. Trading volumes exceeded their pre-pandemic levels earlier this year. On the other hand, services are becoming harder to recover due to restrictions affecting travel and transport, Ms Okonjo-Iwela said.
This optimistic picture hides strong inequalities, notes the World Trade Organization. “As is the case with the economy in general, commercial exposure varies rapidly by region, and unequal access to COVID 19 vaccines is one of the main reasons for these disparities.”, recalled the general manager.
→ Also read: Kovid-19: WHO condemns “blatant” inequality of access to vaccines in the world
On Tuesday, the IMF underscored in its new global economic forecasts that access to vaccines widens inequalities in economic recovery.
Arrived at the head of the WTO since March, the former Nigerian finance minister has prioritized the WTO at the center of the fight against the pandemic, by trying to facilitate the means to ramp up production of vaccines.
But member states very divided over the issue of the temporary lifting of patents on vaccines are currently limiting their ambitions. Again this week, despite lengthy debate among member states, no significant progress has been made on the issue.
“Failure to ensure global access to vaccines poses serious risks to the global economy and public health”, warned the Director-General, recalling that the poor countries had barely been able to vaccinate 1% of their population until now, when the richest trumpets crossed the 50% threshold.
The director general has already twice already called on all actors involved in vaccine production to try to find ways to speed things up, for example by identifying barriers that slow trade in vaccine materials or other barriers. Huh.
NS”Business has been a force for good by allowing access to materials and medical equipmentMs Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela said the trade in medical supplies grew by 16% in 2020 and personal protective equipment by 50% at a time of decline in rest of world trade.
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