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Date: 2022-07-01 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00020450

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Bloomberg Politics

Bloomberg Politics ... May 7th 2020

Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
Original article:
Everyone loses

Bloomberg Politics Unsubscribe

6:28 AM (3 hours ago) to me

Bloomberg

So much for working with allies.

Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s announcement that the Biden administration was prepared to waive patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines blindsided other governments and the companies that make the shots. Pharmaceutical stocks in the U.S. and Europe plunged on the news.

South Africa and India are among the proponents of a broad waiver to rules protecting the intellectual property behind the vaccines. They see it as key to more equitable access in poorer countries.

Germany, home to BioNTech and CureVac, came out against it, arguing that patents are necessary to encourage the kind of innovation that enables vaccine development.

European Union leaders will discuss the U.S. proposal when they meet in Portugal this evening, but the bloc’s executive is skeptical. The U.S. and EU have been strong supporters of IP protections until now, particularly in the face of patent infringements by countries including China.

As Josh Wingrove reports, domestic political considerations may be behind the new U.S. stance, which Democratic progressives applaud.

The U.S. proposal will face lengthy negotiations at the World Trade Organization. Whatever its chances of becoming reality, medical experts agree it will do nothing to help a world desperate for vaccines now.

China and the EU are the main exporters, and while the U.S. plans to share some of its vast stocks it has yet to do so. With India’s vaccine production now redirected internally, many countries have little option but to turn to Beijing for help.

The upshot is that Biden’s claim that the U.S. will become an “arsenal for fighting Covid-19” globally already looks hollow, and the world is the loser. — Alan Crawford


Demonstrators call on the U.S. to commit to a global coronavirus vaccination plan in Washington on Wednesday. Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Click here for this week’s most compelling political images and tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

Global Headlines

Big victory | U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives had a strong win in a key parliamentary district, riding a wave of local support from Brexit and the successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout. The result in Hartlepool, which had voted Labour since the seat’s creation in 1974, is a boost for Johnson and shows support for his party in the face of recent allegations over its integrity and competence.

The U.K. and French navies have been drawn into the increasingly bitter dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Targeting China | The Biden administration will probably maintain limits on U.S. investments in certain Chinese companies imposed under former President Donald Trump, despite Wall Street calls to ease the restrictions, sources say. While no final decision has been made, Saleha Mohsin and Jennifer Jacobs write, the White House is likely to find broad support in Congress for a tough stance on Beijing.

China’s exports rose more than expected in April as global stimulus fueled demand, while imports jumped on surging commodity prices.

Climate votes | With Europe’s major companies preparing to host their annual shareholder meetings, one topic is garnering almost all the attention: climate change. Laura Hurst writes that investors in Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total are calling for greater action.

China is turning to its state-owned coal power companies to helm the next stage of the country’s renewables push, as the sector becomes less attractive to other investors, Dan Murtaugh reports.

Simmering tensions | It’s said to be the most Asian city outside Asia, where a Sikh gurdwara, a Tibetan monastery, and a Chinese evangelical church coexist along a 1.8-mile stretch of road dubbed the Highway to Heaven. But as Natalie Obiko Pearson reports, a surge of attacks in Vancouver has made it the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America, and Covid-19 is the trigger.

Staff shortages | With Covid-19 cases soaring across India’s tech-hub of Bangalore, Wall Street’s back-office operations are coming under intense strain. Standard Chartered said about 800 of its 20,000 staffers in India were infected. As many as 25% of employees in some teams at UBS are absent, and work is being shipped to other centers such as Poland.

Hundreds of thousands of seafarers risk being stuck at sea beyond the expiry of their contracts because of India’s epidemic.

Pop quiz, readers (no cheating!). Where is the eruption of a volcano triggering an environmental threat on the other side of the planet? Send your answers to balancepower@bloomberg.net.

What to Watch
  • Top diplomats from China and the U.S. will today discuss how to address regional and global crises at a United Nations Security Council event.
  • Australia’s trade minister said its international borders may not completely open until the second half of 2022, in a blow to the airline and tourism industries.
  • A falling Chinese rocket is unlikely to cause any damage when it returns to Earth, the country’s foreign ministry said, amid U.S. concerns about the spacecraft’s uncontrolled re-entry tomorrow.
  • And finally ... As skyrocketing crop prices fuel fears about hunger around the globe, one of the world’s most consumed staples is bucking the trend and warding off a broader food crisis.
As Randy Thanthong-Knight and Pratik Parija explain, prices of rice have remained steady because it’s mainly grown for human consumption, while demand for livestock feed like corn and soy has boomed.


Farmers transplant rice seedlings in Bogor, Indonesia on May 3. Photographer: Adriana Adie/NurPhoto

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