COVID live updates: New Zealand to use APEC summit hosting duties to call for an end to tariffs on medical supplies — as it happened

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NZ wants to end world tariffs on COVID supplies

New Zealand is pushing for nations around the world to end tariffs on face masks, syringes and other supplies needed to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand is making the push as this year’s virtual host of the APEC summit. 

[FYI: APEC is a 21-country trade forum that includes, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Republic of Korea, The Republic of the Philippines, The Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.]

New Zealand hopes that forum members will quickly agree on a list of products that should have tariffs removed.

Vangelis Vitalis, who chairs the APEC’s senior officials’ meeting, said the hope was that this list will then be used as a template by other countries. 

“It is a depressing, objective fact that across our region, many economies impose tariffs, even on vaccines,”

He listed some some examples of tariffs imposed by APEC countries 

  • Soap: 5 per cent
  • Vaccines: 6 per cent 
  • Syringes: 21 per cent 
  • Specialized freezers that can store the Pfizer vaccine at minus 70 Celsius: 30 per cent

As well as ending tariffs, Mr Vitalis is also hoping that forum countries will agree on ways to make it easier to transport vaccines and medical supplies across borders, for example by removing export restrictions and simplifying customs procedures.

“The response needs to be urgent,” he said. 

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