The ACTU has joined 258 global and national organisations in calling on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to stop negotiations so government resources can be focused on dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The signatory organisations call on WTO Members to prioritise people’s health:

“The first and only priority for trade negotiators at this time should be to remove all obstacles, including intellectual property rules, in existing agreements that hinder timely and affordable access to medical supplies…and the ability of governments to take whatever steps are necessary to address this crisis…

We call on WTO Members to ensure that all countries have the flexibilities to set aside trade rules that constrain their ability to resolve the pandemic crisis, without fear of repercussions, and to cease other negotiations and activities that divert their energy and resources from that goal.

We further call on you to recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates a fundamental re-think of the types of rules that are negotiated in trade agreements, including those that can encourage monopolies and reduce affordable access to all forms of medical supplies, and put at risk the lives of people in every country of the world.”