G20 officials back fairer vaccine distribution
Published: Oct 13, 2021 08:33 PM
G20 photo:VCG

G20 photo:VCG

G20 trade ministers on Tuesday promised to work towards a fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by lifting export restrictions and making the trade system more transparent.

Their final statement, adopted after a meeting in southern Italy, was a sign of the return of multilateralism, said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio.

"We have to ensure that there is greater circulation of vaccines and that there are production factories in the developing countries," French trade minister Franck Riester said.

While more than 6 billion vaccine doses have been produced and administered worldwide, only 1.4 percent of people in poor countries have been fully vaccinated, compared to 58 percent in rich countries, World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said earlier in October.

Ahead of the WTO's ministerial conference set for November 30 to December 3 in Geneva, she called on members to agree on a strong response to the pandemic based on a fairer sharing of the vaccines. Riester said another issue was getting vaccine-makers to waive intellectual property rights to allow production around the world.

The G20 members also agreed on the need to reform the WTO, something the European Commission has been insisting on for some time.

It also backed the talks on renegotiating fishing subsidies to ensure stock sustainability.

Di Maio said that the question of subsidies was still creating tensions. "We are all agreed in saying that the rules of the game have to be same for everyone," he added.