ICC warns EU vaccine export controls must be rolled back without delay

  • 4 March 2021

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO has issued the following statement in response to breaking news that Italy has used EU export controls to block the export of COVID-19 Astra Zeneca vaccines to Australia.

Mr Denton said:

“While we understand the political pressures at play within Europe, blocking exports to meet domestic vaccination targets is a very dangerous card for policymakers to play. Vaccine manufacturing within the EU relies on an inherently global supply chain that – as we’ve repeatedly warned – is vulnerable to any escalation of retaliatory trade measures. These global production networks are already showing signs of severe strain, as demand for essential manufacturing inputs rises to unprecedented levels.”

“Simply put, using export curbs to get your hands on a few thousand doses of vaccines might yield an immediate political win at home but it comes with a potentially heavy price if European manufacturers find themselves unable to source the inputs needed to sustain – let alone – scale production. The horse may have already bolted, but it’s not too late for the European Commission to close the door on a further escalation on trade restrictions. It’s imperative that the export control regime introduced last month is taken off the statute book without delay.”

“Using trade restrictions is not a durable means to speed local immunization efforts. The challenge of getting vaccines to everyone, everywhere – without delay – will only be met through a collaborative global effort to scale manufacturing and speed distribution efforts. It’s not too late for governments to change course and avert the huge economic and social risks of a prolonged pandemic.”