WTO chief disappointed by EU vaccine block

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

WTO DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has stated she will talk to the EU about removing barriers to exports of Covid-19 vaccines.

The new director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has expressed disappointment in the EU's export blocking mechanisms for Covid-19 vaccines, promising to raise the subject with Brussels.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said any such restrictions must be temporary and not hinder the distribution of these vital medical supplies.

The mechanism was set up at the end of January in response to delays in vaccine deliveries to EU nations, and extended by the European Commission on March 11th.

Earlier this month, a shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses intended for Australia was blocked by Italy, citing a persistent shortage of vaccines.

This week, it has been reported that the bloc is set to propose new controls on exports which, while stopping short of a total ban, will allow states to take more factors into account when deciding on whether to block exports of a particular vaccine.

Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said at a WTO online event: "While we understand the politics of what they are doing - I have said openly I am disappointed, particularly in the fact that they extended it from March."

She added: "I am actively talking to them about how we can make sure this restriction can be dealt with."

The scheme requires companies to obtain authorization before exporting any Covid-19 vaccines out of the EU, and requests may be declined if manufacturers are deemed to not be respecting their supply commitments within the bloc.