Food & Agriculture
May 17, 2022

By Michael Anderson, Vice President of Trade and Industry Affairs


  • USMCA: USDA announced U.S. fresh potato exports are shipping to the full Mexican market nearly a year after the Mexican supreme court struck down Mexico’s import regulation, limiting U.S. exports to within the 26-kilometer border zone. The U.S. has pursued lifting the import restriction for more than 25 years. Separately, the USMCA dispute on Canadian dairy TRQ continues. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Canada’s second attempt to modify the dairy TRQ was unacceptable.
  • Biden Transition: President Biden announced his intent to nominate Alexis Taylor, for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Industry groups and Senator Grassley lauded the long-awaited move to fill a critical trade position at USDA, and called for expeditious confirmation of Taylor, who is presently Director at the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
  • Indo-Pacific Economic Framework: Over 20 Republican senators sent a letter to Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack, reemphasizing the necessity of including market access provision in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The senators wrote, “The failure to include [market access] commitments puts American exporters, including agricultural producers, at a competitive disadvantage in the global market.”
  • U.S – EU: The U.S. and EU agreed to collaborate and launch efforts to secure global food as part of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC). The U.S. and EU intend to cover issues and goals related to supply chains, semiconductors, and tech standards, in addition to the Russia – Ukraine conflict in the TTC.
  • WTO: With rising global concerns regarding food security, a number of WTO members released a joint statement reiterating their commitment to keeping food and agriculture markets free and open. The members noted that food security discussions will continue at the WTO’s 12th ministerial.

“We’re discussing that right now…We’re looking at what would have the most positive impacts.”

— President Bident commenting on tariff removals to ease inflation


Expanded U.S. potato exports to Mexico

Representative Dan Kildee (MI-05)
  • After a decades long dispute, U.S. fresh potato exports have commenced to the full Mexican market. The announcement by the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Mexico’s national plant protection organization (SENASICA), comes nearly a year after the Mexican supreme court struck down Mexico’s import regulation, limiting U.S. exports to within the 26-kilometer border zone. “The shipments come after more than 25 years of regulatory and legal obstructions by Mexico, and one year after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled unanimously that U.S. fresh potatoes were legally authorized to be imported,” the National Potato Council (NPC) said.
  • Congressional, government, and industry leaders lauded the resolution of the long-standing dispute.
    • USDA Secretary Vilsack said, “Through this accomplishment, we are delivering better markets for U.S. farmers, supporting economic growth, and providing access to our southern neighbors to the high-quality and safe products our farmers work hard every day to grow and sustain.  USDA will continue to fight for new and expanded markets for American products as we help the nation build back better.”
    • Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) emphasized the importance of USMCA enforcement in the potato issues stating,  “In Congress, I am fighting for our rural communities and farmers. I was proud to support the USMCA because it expands market access for Michigan’s farmers, including our potato farmers. I will fight to enforce the USMCA so that Mexico does not discriminate against Michigan farmers and our farmers have access to the Mexican market,” said Congressman Kildee.
    • NPC CEO Kam Quarles lauded the breakthrough and efforts of U.S. trade officials. “Today’s news wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of Secretary Tom Vilsack, [Trade Representative] Katherine Tai, and their outstanding teams at USDA and USTR.” Quarles continued, “Both agencies have made the restoration of U.S. potato access a top U.S. trade priority. We thank them for getting us to this important step, and we will need their continued partnership to ensure that the border remains open as we seek to grow the Mexican market for potatoes.”
    • According to NPC, “Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes and products valued at $394 million in 2021. Despite the restriction to the 26-kilometer border region, Mexico is the second-largest market for fresh potato exports, accounting for 124,449 metric tons valued at $60 million in 2021. The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the entire country for fresh U.S. potatoes will provide a market potential of $250 million per year, in five years.”

U.S. rejects Canada’s second Dairy TRQ amendment

  • Over the weekend, the U.S. said Canada’s second offer to modify the dairy tariff-rate quota (TRQ) provision under USMCA was insufficient.  Canada is proposing to exclude Canadian retailers – major sellers of U.S. dairy products like cheese – in Canada. On the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Germany this past weekend, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Canada’s second proposal for modifying its TRQ under the USMCA dispute is unacceptable and that key changes are needed before the dispute is resolved. Vilsack met with Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau during the G7 meetings and emphasized that “there is a need for Canada to make a much better effort than they’re making right now.”
    • “I very forcefully conveyed our significant disappointment in the response to the panel’s discussion under USMCA on the issue of whether or not Canada would open up the TRQ under USMCA for dairy to include their retailers,” Vilsack said according to Agri-Pulse.
    • On March 1st, Canada released its initial proposed policy changes in response to a USMCA panel ruling in favor of the U.S. complaint that Canada is breaching its USMCA commitments by reserving most of the in-quota quantity TRQ in its dairy for the exclusive use of Canadian processors. The changes, which proposed to allocate shares of TRQs to “processors and distributors on a market share basis,” instead of just “processors on a market share basis,” were rejected by numerous U.S. officials and dairy industry stakeholders.

China Trade

Sen. Menendez releases new China-focused bill

  • As noted earlier, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Economic Statecraft of the Twenty-First Century Act. The legislation is meant to complement the China competition bill that has just entered the congressional conference process.
    • “Twenty years ago, the common consensus was that by joining the international economic order, China would adopt principles of economic liberalization and personal freedom. But unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Instead, they are using their economic integration to pressure the developing world to choose between our system and our values of self-determination, respect for human rights, and openness – or theirs: of authoritarianism, repression, and censorship,” Chairman Menendez said. “It is time to have coordination. We need a new, whole-of-government approach. One rooted in the emerging geopolitical realities of a world more connected yet more complex than ever. And that’s exactly what my bill, the Economic Statecraft for the Twenty-First Century Act, will do.”
    • The bill is divided into two parts: “Confront” and “Compete” and establishes a plan to “outcompete China in five strategic domains of the 21st century – infrastructure, energy, technology, international financial institutions, and global resilience.”


  • Overall consumer prices in April were 8.3% higher than a year ago, according to data released last week, a slight decrease over the 8.5% rate in March. Grocery prices rose by 1% over March and were up 10.8% over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since November 1980, the Labor Department said. The April increase in grocery prices was slightly lower than the 1.5% gain in March yet represented the fourth straight month retail food prices increased by at least 1%.
  • Dairy prices increased by 2.5%, while fruits and vegetables saw modest price declines. Prices for cereals and bakery products rose by more than 1% last month and are 10% higher over the 12-month period, due in part to limited grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia.
Consumer-price index, 12-month change ending in April

Food Security

India bans wheat exports adding to global food security concerns

  • This past weekend Indian announced a ban on wheat exports in an effort to protect its domestic supply, citing a risk to food security, partly due to the war in Ukraine and a rising prices. Indian officials said that there was no dramatic fall in wheat output this year, but unregulated exports had led to a rise in local prices. “We don’t want wheat trade to happen in an unregulated manner or hoarding to happen,” commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam told reporters in New Delhi. The ban may put further pressure on global wheat prices, already at historic highs due in part to the military conflict in Ukraine.  Before the ban, India planned to ship a record 10 million tons of wheat in 2022.
    • The announcement invoked concern and criticism from U.S. and other countries focused on global food security tensions. Speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Germany USDA Secretary Vilsack said the U.S. and its G7 partners understand the India ban is “exactly the wrong thing to do at this point because it really does create additional disruption of the market and can potentially increase prices, which make food inflation and availability significantly worse than they already are. I sincerely hope that India reconsiders that ill-advised decision.”

Biden Transition

Alexis Taylor, Biden nominee for Under Secretary of Trade, USDA

Biden announces name for top USDA trade position

  • Last Friday President Biden announced his intent to nominate Alexis Taylor, Nominee for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Whites House press released detailed Ms. Taylors’ experience as follows:
    • Alexis Taylor serves as Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), having served since her appointment by Oregon Governor Kate Brown in December 2016. As Director, Taylor works to promote and regulate agriculture and food, always keeping ODA’s mission to ensure healthy natural resources, environment, and economy for Oregonians now and into the future at the forefront.
    • Prior to her appointment as Director of ODA, Ms. Taylor oversaw the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS). Before joining USDA, she worked for several Members of Congress. Taylor is an Iowa native, who moved to Oregon after working 12 years in Washington D.C. focused on U.S. agricultural and trade policy. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and grew up on her family farm in Iowa, which has been in her family for more than 160 years. While still in high school, she enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. During her junior year in college her army reserve unit was deployed to Iraq, where she served one tour with the 389th Combat Engineer Battalion. While no longer an active reservist, Taylor continues to advocate for veterans.
  • The long-awaited announcement, nearly 15 months into the administration, drew strong initial support from several lawmakers, industry groups, and USDA Secretary Vilsack. “Her nomination builds upon USDA’s commitment to link U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities for American farmers and producers and increase global food security,” Vilsack said in a statement. “I am confident Alexis is the right person to lead as we continue to address global food security, promote American exports across the globe and strengthen trade relationships with our global partners.”
  • Senator Grassley applauded the news while lamenting the administration’s delay. “Congratulations to Alexis Taylor on her nomination to serve as the USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs,” Grassley said in a statement. “While I’m very pleased an Iowan whom I know to be talented and hardworking has been nominated for this role, the announcement is long overdue. I once again urge the Biden administration to also nominate a qualified individual for Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR without delay.”
  • Ted McKinney, formerly in the Under Secretary Trade position and now CEO of NASDA said, “We know Director Taylor’s passion for seeking market opportunities for American farmers, ranchers and food producers of all types.” “Her previous experience at USDA, her character and her deep understanding of how regulations across the globe matter for individuals in our communities will benefit all Americans.”
Heather Hurlburt, USTR Chief of Staff

USTR selects new chief of staff

  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced the selection of Heather Hurlburt as the new chief of staff. Hurlburt is “a veteran foreign policy leader who will help guide and manage the agency as it continues to implement President Biden’s vision for a trade policy that delivers inclusive prosperity,” USTR said in a statement. USTR Katherine Tai said in the statement that Hurlburt’s “wealth of experience and top-notch management skills developed over an impressive career in and outside of government will help USTR navigate a wide-range of challenges and develop sound solutions to some of the most difficult domestic economic and foreign policy issues we face.”
    • Hurlburt was most, recently the director of the “New Models of Policy Change” project at the New America think tank.” USTR calls the project “a hub for analysis and convening around questions of diversity, gender and equity in international affairs,” all key issues for the Biden administration’s developing worker-centric trade policy.

Indo- Pacific Economic Framework

Senators press for market access in IPEF

  • In a letter addressed to Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack, 24 republican senators reemphasized the necessity of including market access provisions in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The letter coordinated by Senator John Thune (R-ID), Senator John Boozman (R-AR), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID), asserts that “Advancing U.S. economic interests – particularly in the Indo-Pacific region – requires meaningful and enforceable market access commitments.” The senators continue noting the present lack of ambition in the administration’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda. “The failure to include [market access] commitments puts American exporters, including agricultural producers, at a competitive disadvantage in the global market,” the letter states.
    • Highlighting President Biden’s movement away from traditional free trade agreements, the senators expressed concern regarding the U.S.’s fading presence in the global marketplace. “U.S. farm and food product exports grew from $46.1 billion in 1994 to more than $177 billion in 2021, which was largely due to greater market access opportunities for American exporters,” while, according to the senators, “The [current] administration’s failure to engage on Trade Promotion Authority or find other avenues to open markets means our workers and producers will continue to lose ground to competitors.” Accordingly, the republican lawmakers urged the Biden Administration to include market access in IPEF and “strengthen American trade leadership.”

President Biden to unveil IPEF during Japan trip

  • President Biden is flying to Asia later this month (May 20th-24th) for the first time as president. Some politicians believe the U.S. President will take the opportunity to reveal the details of his Administration’s highly anticipated Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. President Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan will follow shortly after he  an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on May 13th. Japanese Ambassador Tomita Koji said of President Biden’s upcoming trip to Japan, “I’m expecting the visit will also coincide with the formal launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework initiative by the United States.” He went on, speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) event, “We are now trying to flesh out the ideas to be contained in this initiative. This is also a very important initiative for the creation of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

U.S. – Colombia FTA

  • On the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. – Colombia FTA, Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means Ranking Member, published a piece on “10 Years of U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Proves Why We Need an Ambitious Trade Agenda.” In celebrating the benefits of the agreement’s first decade, he said:
    • “I believe in free trade. I think it’s the greatest economic freedom we have. The ability to buy and sell and compete anywhere in the world, with as little government interference as possible, can lift not just people up and communities up, but whole countries up.
    • “We ought to be doing more free trade. I sometimes get frustrated that America is not leading on trade today. I think we’re at a time where we need to be leading both at the WTO and in the regions around the world, with bilateral agreements.”
    • “Today is a good reminder, on the 10th anniversary, we need to be doing more to be re-thinking our relationship and new opportunities with Colombia and America because they’re right there in front of us.”


Ukraine warns of reduced ag exports

  • Ukrainian officials forecast severely reduced agriculture exports. According to First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy, Ukraine can export no more than 1.5 million tons of agricultural products a month because of a Russian blockade of its ports. Prior to the Russian invasion Ukraine’s monthly agriculture exports averaged more than 5 million tons. Ukraine has shifted agriculture shipments to railway transport yet the rail capacity appears significantly lower than compared to seaborne shipping.

U.S. – Russia

Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Commerce reviews Russia’s market-economy status

  • The Department of Commerce (DOC) has reopened an investigation of Russia’s market-economy classification following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Last year, the DOC launched a review of Russia’s economy after the country failed to implement market reform as part of a case focused on Urea Ammonium Nitrate. Ultimately, Commerce determined Russia was still a market-economy despite the lack of reform. Now, the DOC will reexamine Russia’s economy to determine if Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine disqualifies Russia from its market-economy status, which could lead to increased AD and CVD duties on Russian imports.
    • Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who recently wrote a letter to Secretary Raimondo, encouraging her to reconsider Russia’s economic status, expressed his support for the investigation in a statement. “I’m glad the Commerce Department is looking into this important measure that would put additional pressure on Putin and his oligarch cronies. The Russian government owns as much of 70 percent of its economy – that’s not a market economy. The Putin oligarchy shouldn’t get the privileges that come with that designation. Removing Russia’s market-economy status will increase duties on Russian goods and prevent Russia from engaging in unfair trade practices with our allies,” said the Senator.

U.S. – Georgia

Ambassador Tai and Georgian Vice Prime Minister Davitashvili

Georgian minister proposes FTA

  • Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Levan Davitashvili met with Ambassador Tai to discuss “U.S. support for Georgia in this time of crisis in the region.” According to a report by U.S. Inside Trade the Georgian minister broached the topic of establishing a U.S. – Georgia FTA as a possible avenue for such support. “It was noted that for the United States, Georgia’s main strategic partner, the trade policy agenda focuses on exporting more products, creating more jobs, and expanding economic growth opportunities,” said the Ministry in a statement on the meeting.
    • Previously, several U.S. lawmakers wrote a letter to Ambassador Tai, urging the trade representative “to strongly consider further strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties with the country of Georgia” as a means of establishing more stability in the Caucasus region. Greater U.S. presence in Georgia has been theorized as a potential vehicle for countering Chinese influence in Central Asia.

Section 301 Investigations

Biden Administration commences Section 301 review

  • As reported earlier, USTR issued a notice that the Biden Administration has started its four-year review of the China Section 301 tariffs. According to a USTR press release, the first step in the process is “to notify representatives of domestic industries that benefit from the tariff actions of the possible termination of those actions and of the opportunity for the representatives to request continuation.  If a request for continuation is received, USTR will conduct a review of the tariff actions.”
    • The first round of Section 301 tariffs imposed under the former Trump Administration on Chinese imports are approaching their four-year mark in July, triggering the congressionally mandated review. The Biden Administration has kept the Section 301 tariffs as leverage over China to meet its purchase targets and other commitments in the Phase One trade deal, according to many trade experts. The review process, which has just official commenced, will provide industry groups and other interested parties a fresh opportunity to pressure USTR into rolling back the trade penalties, or at least expanding its plans to offer exclusions.

Section 232 Tariffs

Section 232 tariffs to be lifted from Ukrainian steel

  • Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the temporary suspension of 232 tariffs on Ukrainian steel. The tariffs are to be lifted for one year, according to a Department of Commerce press release. Steel is a major industry in Ukraine, “employing 1 in 13 Ukrainians with good paying jobs.” The announcement follows a substantial push from politicians and industry groups, urging the Biden Administration to show American support for Ukraine through tariff reductions.
    • “Steelworkers are among the world’s most resilient—whether they live in Youngstown or Mariupol.  We can’t just admire the fortitude and spirit of the Ukrainian people—we need to have their backs and support one of the most important industries to Ukraine’s economic well-being.  For steel mills to continue as an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine, they must be able to export their steel.  Today’s announcement is a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of Putin’s aggression, and that their work will create a stronger Ukraine, both today and in the future,” said Secretary Raimondo in a statement on the suspension of 232 tariffs.

USITC Section 232 tariff investigation

  • As noted earlier, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced it will also investigate the effects of active Section 301 and Section 232 tariffs on U.S. industries. “The Commission was directed to conduct this investigation, Economic Impact of Section 232 and 301 Tariffs on U.S. Industries, Inv. 332-591, as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on March 15, 2022.” Following the investigation, the USITC will create a report that comprises:
    • “background information on the Section 232 and 301 tariffs and an overview of the tariffs that were in effect as of March 15, 2022; and
    • an economic analysis of the impact of these tariffs on U.S. trade, production, and prices in the industries most affected by these tariffs.”
  • The USITC will conduct a public hearing in connection with the investigation, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on July 21, 2022. Information regarding the hearing will be posted on the Commission’s website no later than June 21st. The USITC will deliver the report to Congress by March 15, 2023. 

U.S. – U.K.

U.K. poised for trade talks

  • U.K. officials continue to affirm they are eager to launch trade talks with the Biden administration. During recent trip to the United States, U.K. Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs George Eustice presented an optimistic view for the future of the two countries’ trade relationship. “The long and short of it is (British Prime Minister Boris Johnson) and the UK government are still very keen to progress a UK-U.S. trade agreement,” he noted. Secretary Eustice said that during his trip he raised the “longer-term objective to have a UK-U.S. free trade agreement, according to a video message released by his office,”
    • Despite the Biden Administration’s persistence that a trans-Atlantic trade deal is not a priority at this point in time, the U.K. continues to press for eventual formal negotiations. U.S. Stakeholders remain hopeful that the U.K.’s resolve will lead to a trade deal later down the road.
    • Testifying before a House subcommittee, Secretary Vilsack highlighted his talks with Secretary Eustice as proof of the Biden Administration’s seriousness towards trade and promoting U.S. ag. “I can tell you that I have had more conversations on trade, more conversations with ag ministers across – in fact, yesterday, with Ireland and the UK. We’re doing more trade missions,” said Secretary Vilsack, responding to a congressman’s comments.

U.S. – EU

Ambassador Tai meets with Lithuanian minister

  • While visiting the United States, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis convened a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Together, the two officials agreed to continue strengthening U.S. -EU ties and work “to push back on non-market policies like economic coercion.” Minister Landsbergis and Ambassador Tai also discussed shared goals for the U.S. – EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC).

Food security on TTC agenda

  • The U.S. and EU agreed to collaborate and launch efforts to secure global food as part of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council according to one senior EU official and White House readout. The May 15th and 16th discussions between the U.S. and EU are intended to cover issues and goals related to supply chains, semiconductors, and tech standards, in addition to the Russia – Ukraine conflict.
    • The meeting provides an opportunity to “chart a way forward,” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent food security and supply chain issues. “I think that those conversations, those kinds of results, those kinds of bridges that we build, I think they’re going to get stronger as we go on,” said the Under Secretary. “I think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg here. We’ve got a lot more to do. Russia’s aggression has only uncovered the reasons why our relationship, why our joint shared future, is so important.”

U.S. – Kenya

Constance Hamilton, Assistant United States Trade Representative for African Affairs

USTR leads broad-based delegation to Kenya

  • USTR released a statement on Assistant United States Trade Representative for African Affairs Constance Hamilton’s trip to Kenya. According to the statement, Assistant USTR Hamilton’s meetings with Kenyan official were successful and “discussions covered a wide range of topics and helped identify key areas of convergence that deepened mutual understanding between both countries.” USTR has yet to reveal concrete outcomes of the discussions.


Members pledge open food and agriculture trade

  • As supply chain issues and concerns about food security continue to arise, a number of WTO members released a joint statement reiterating their commitment to keeping food and agriculture markets free and open. The communication states, “We reaffirm the urgency and importance of maintaining open and predictable agricultural markets and trade to ensure the continued flow of food, as well as products, services and inputs essential for agricultural and food production and supply chains. We also recognise the importance of exercising restraint in excessive stockpiling and hoarding of agricultural products affected by this crisis that are traditionally exported.” Likewise, the countries affirmed their commitment to pursuing emergency measures to help combat food insecurity and improving transparency of food and agriculture trade measures. The statement also mentions that conversation surrounding open food and agriculture markets will continue at the WTO’s 12th ministerial. Proponents of the joint statement include Albania; Australia; Canada; Chile; Costa Rica; European Union; Georgia; Iceland; Israel; Japan; Republic of Korea; Liechtenstein; Mexico; Republic of Moldova; Montenegro; New Zealand; North Macedonia; Norway; Paraguay; Singapore; Switzerland; The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; Ukraine; United Kingdom and United States.

China opens door for TRIPS waiver resolution

  • China told WTO members it will decline to pursue the flexibilities afforded to developing countries under the TRIPS COVID-19 vaccines proposal – setting the stage for advancing text-based negotiations. However, China tied its position to refrain from using the flexibility to removal of the criteria of export share to define eligible members contained in the text. Ambassador Li Chenggang, China’s trade envoy, said China hopes “our positive movement could be reciprocated with the same level of pragmatism and flexibility from other major stakeholders, so that an outcome that benefits developing members and LDCs in genuine needs could be reached at an earliest date before MC 12.”
  • Earlier, WTO Director-General Okonjo-Iweala released the TRIPS waiver compromise regarding COVID-19 vaccine IP protections agreed upon by the Quad (the EU, India, South Africa, and the U.S.). A WTO news item on the release notes, “In their discussions, the Quad adopted a problem-solving approach aimed at identifying practical ways of clarifying, streamlining and simplifying how governments can override patent rights, under certain conditions, to enable diversification of production of COVID-19 vaccines.” The text allows eligible members to grant usage of patented COVID-19 vaccine IP without the consent of the patent holder.

Members focusing on MC12 deliverables

  • With less than a month until MC12, WTO member countries are refining deliverables, with an IP waiver and food security gaining potential momentum. Both areas are measures of the WTO’s response to the pandemic, though the IP waiver provisions for vaccines has been debated for many months. Food security has gained heightened attention following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted global food supplies, particularly grains and edible oils. Other likely deliverables, including the long-sought agreement on limiting fisheries subsidies, appear to be losing ground as members prepare for a “streamlined, business-like” MC12. WTO officials have been playing down expectations, considering the unabated geopolitical tensions surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lingering issues associated with the pandemic.