Covid-19 and World Trade

WTO Issues Papers on Vaccine Inputs Tariffs and Bottlenecks on Critical COVID-19 Products

The WTO Secretariat has published two information notes on issues relating to the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines.

The first one is a new study that focuses on COVID-19 vaccines production and tariffs on vaccine inputs. Based on the Joint Indicative List of Critical COVID-19 Vaccine Inputs for Consultation (Version 1.0), this new report explores the most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs and imports of these products by the 27 top vaccine manufacturing economies in order to identify possible “sensitive” or choke points. Any product group with an average tariff of at least 5% was deemed a possible “choke point”.

The report concludes that tariffs on critical products to manufacture vaccines remain high, especially in some developing countries, and might impede the flow across borders and/or increase the cost of vaccine manufacturing. It calls for members' cooperation under the WTO to support the elimination and/or significant reduction of tariffs on these vaccine inputs to reduce costs and expand output from vaccine manufacturers meeting acute global needs. The paper can be found here.

The second paper updates the “Indicative list of trade-related bottlenecks and trade-facilitating measures on critical products to combat COVID-19” that was previously published on 20 July 2021. This revised version is based on issues identified and suggestions made by stakeholders at various events and consultations convened by the WTO, as well as with vaccine manufacturers in the context of meetings organized by the Multilateral Leaders Task Force on COVID-19, which was established by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the WTO.

One common theme that emerges in this update is that essential goods and inputs need to flow efficiently and expeditiously to support the rapid scaling up of COVID-19 production capacity worldwide. As manufacturers scale-up production and establish new sites in different countries, the production network is not only becoming larger, but also increasingly complex and international. Because the delay of a single component may significantly slow down or even bring to a halt vaccine manufacturing, it follows that inputs need to flow expeditiously, and each node within the supply chain network needs to operate seamlessly with the others.

Intended to be a living document, the revision of the “Indicative List of Trade-Related Bottlenecks and Trade-Facilitating Measures on Critical Products to Combat COVID-19” can be downloaded here.

Based on this paper, the WTO Secretariat has also issued the infographic “The Global Race to Vaccinate”, which shows the various steps involved in vaccination after manufacture. See also the infographic “Developing & delivering COVID-19 vaccines around the world”.