Home / News / World /  Global tariff relief on medical goods urged by group of nations

The European Union said it would join forces with countries including Canada and Japan to push fellow World Trade Organization members to ease tariffs on medical equipment needed to fight Covid-19, the latest effort to bolster supply chains amid the pandemic.

The initiative by the “Ottawa Group" seeks to persuade WTO nations as a whole to suspend import duties on items such as masks, testing kits and ventilators, the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive arm in Brussels, said in a statement on Monday.

The group -- whose members also include Australia, Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland -- agreed to the initiative in a ministerial video conference on Monday, according to the commission. Another proposal is to refrain from export restrictions on essential medical products like personal protective equipment.

“We are proud to promote this trade and health initiative," European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in the statement. “It aims to encourage stronger global cooperation at WTO level by facilitating trade in health-care products. This is critical in the current global health crisis."

The campaign marks a push to prevent the Covid-19 health scare from exacerbating the global economic downturn through the national hoarding of medical supplies. The Ottawa Group plans to raise its initiative at a WTO meeting in December and hopes for an agreement by the membership as a whole next year, according to a senior EU official.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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