At present, the tariff of new crown vaccine among countries is very low, but the cost of matching equipment such as syringes, needles and gloves is high, which may hinder the vaccination process.
“Trade can’t solve the crisis, but it can help.” Vitalis told Reuters that in order to ensure that small countries would not be left behind in the field of vaccination against crown disease, New Zealand proposed to abolish tariffs on COVID-19’s necessities such as medicines, medical equipment and sanitary products among 21 APEC members and relax other restrictions on cross-border transport of these goods.
Vitalis, who is also chairman of the virtual meeting of APEC senior officials in 2021, also mentioned that the proposal must be agreed in the next few weeks before it can be approved at the APEC trade ministers’ meeting in May.
According to the report, some APEC countries promised last year to ensure the opening of supply chain during the epidemic period and to lift trade restrictions on anti epidemic necessities, especially medical supplies. But since then, no firm action has been taken between the governments except New Zealand and Singapore.
Vitalis said, “it is worrying that only two small countries have done this” and said that New Zealand wants a ministerial statement to list a list of key goods and services needed to fight COVID-19.
New Zealand’s proposal to APEC member states: duty free anti epidemic necessities
Reuters pointed out that if the proposal goes ahead, it will also ease the situation of the new vaccine passing through the air and sea ports. Previously, several rounds of “war of words” broke out in Europe and the United States for vaccines, and smaller countries, including New Zealand, worried about big Congress hoarding and controlling medical supply.
Vitalis said that “vaccine nationalism” is not in anyone’s interest, and the emergence of mutated viruses means that it is necessary to avoid “part of the global population is not vaccinated”. New Zealand began vaccinating border workers on the 20th, but most of its 5 million people will be vaccinated in the second half of this year, Reuters reported.
Alan Pollard, former executive director of Singapore’s APEC Secretariat and Alan Bollard, agreed that COVID-19 is an imminent problem and that it is also an opportunity to “cross the first trade barriers”.
But at the same time, he is conservative about New Zealand’s vision. He said New Zealand would like to see APEC go further in trade liberalization, but “we have to be realistic about this year’s goals.”.