In a joint statement, the eight signatories to the coalition, including the Australian Industry Group, said they were deeply concerned with the European Commission’s new export authorisation requirements for COVID-19 vaccines and related inputs before they can be shipped.
The coalition of business groups urges the European Commission to reconsider its approach and make the issuance of such authorisations automatic.
Other groups joining the push include the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation for Production and Commerce of Chile, the Federation of Korean Industries, the National Confederation of Industry – Brazil, the New Zealand International Business Forum, the Turkish Industry & Business Association, and the US Chamber of Commerce.
“This recently announced export measure contradicts the spirit of previous commitments the European Union has made in the context of the September 2020 G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting and the Ottawa Group Trade and Health Initiative,” the statement said.
“Additionally, the timing for draft decisions of two business days followed by a further potential two-day extension, and a further day for confirmation or rejection by the European Commission, risks disrupting the complex logistics behind the distribution of vaccines, including ultra-cold storage requirements in some cases.”
The coalition of business groups also noted concerns about the precedent set by the EU measures, saying there’s a risk it will encourage other countries to implement similar actions that would further disrupt the manufacturing and flow of vaccines and other essential goods to fight the pandemic.
Further, the coalition said the EU measures are contrary to the advice of the World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation.
“During the first wave of the pandemic, we saw the harmful proliferation of measures that restricted trade in medical equipment. A collective effort is vital to keep supply chains moving as vaccine manufacturing capacity increases,” the statement said.
“A change by the European Commission to issue automatic authorisations would restore certainty for vaccine manufacturers, logistics providers, citizens, and companies globally.”