Despite facing the world’s worst pandemic of the last century, rich countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) have blocked efforts to enable more affordable access to the means to fight the pandemic.
‘No one is protected from the global pandemic until everyone is’ has become a popular mantra. But vaccine apartheid worldwide, due to rich countries’ policies, has made COVID-19 a developing country pandemic
, delaying its end and global economic recovery.
As rich countries have delayed contagion containment, including mass vaccination, in developing countries, much weaker fiscal efforts in the South have worsened the growing world pandemic apartheid
Too many have swallowed the myth that lowering corporate income tax (CIT) is necessary to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) for growth. Although contradicted by their own research, this lie has long been promoted by influential international economic institutions.
COVID-19 has become a “developing country pandemic
”, retreating from the North’s mass vaccination. With developing countries heavily handicapped, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns
of a “dangerous [new] divergence”.
Last week, the largest rich countries, home to most major transnational corporations (TNCs), agreed to a global minimum corporate income tax (GMCIT) rate. But the low rate proposed and other features will deprive developing countries of their just due yet again.
With the pandemic setting back past, modest and uneven progress, huge disparities in containing COVID-19 and financing government efforts are widening the North-South gap and other inequalities once again.
Pandemic relief measures in developing countries have been limited by modest resources, fear of financial market discipline and policy mimicry. COVID-19 has triggered not only an international public health emergency, but also a global economic crisis, setting back decades of uneven progress
, especially in developing countries.
Failure to sufficiently accelerate comprehensive efforts to contain COVID-19 contagion has greatly worsened the catastrophe in developing countries. Grossly inadequate financing of relief, recovery and reform efforts has also further set back progress, including sustainable development.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged
all governments to support a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 21%. The US is working with other G20 nations to get other countries to end the “thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates”.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take an unprecedented human and economic toll, wiping away years of modest and uneven progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Developing countries now need much more support as progress towards the SDGs was ‘not on track
’ even before the pandemic.
Illicit financial flows (IFFs) hurt all countries, both developed and developing. But poor countries suffer relatively more
, accounting for nearly half the loss
of world tax revenue.
IFFs refer to cross-border movements of money and other financial assets obtained illegally at source, e.g., by corruption, smuggling, tax evasion, etc. This often involves trade mis-invoicing
and transnational corporations’ (TNCs) transfer pricing
via ‘creative’ accounting or book-keeping.
COVID-19 has set back the uneven progress of recent decades, directly causing more than two million deaths. The slowdown, due to the pandemic and policy responses, has pushed hundreds of millions more into poverty, hunger and worse, also deepening many inequalities.
At least 85 poor countries will not
have significant access to coronavirus vaccines before 2023. Unfortunately, a year’s delay will cause an estimated 2.5 million avoidable deaths in low and lower-middle income countries. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General has put it, the world is at the brink of a catastrophic moral failure
Developing country governments are being wrongly advised to use their modest fiscal resources to pay down accumulated debt instead of strengthening pandemic relief and recovery. Thus, debt phobia risks deepening and extending COVID-19 recessions by prioritising buybacks.
After being undermined by decades of financial liberalisation, developing countries now are not only victims of vaccine imperialism
, but also cannot count on much financial support as their COVID-19 recessions drag on due to global vaccine apartheid
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is adversely impacting most developing countries disproportionately, especially the United Nations’ least developed countries (LDCs) and the World Bank’s low-income countries (LICs).
Years of implementing neoliberal policy conditionalities and advice have made most developing countries much more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic by undermining their health systems and fiscal capacities to respond adequately.
Vaccine developers’ refusal to share publicly funded vaccine research findings is stalling broader, affordable vaccinations which would more rapidly contain COVID-19 contagion. The pandemic had infected at least 109 million people worldwide, causing over 2.4 million deaths as of mid-February.
Refusal to temporarily suspend several World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property (IP) provisions to enable much faster and broader progress in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic should be grounds for International Criminal Court prosecution for genocide.
Impeachment or no impeachment, Trump is out of the White House. Trump goes with an approval rating of 34%
, far behind his predecessor Barack Obama’s 60%. A majority, 54%, said Trump ought to be removed from office before January 20, according to a new CNN poll
, for his role in the January 6 events, when Trump incited his supporters to storm the US Capitol.
What a challenging year 2020 has been! A year of living dangerously – “Tahun vivere pericoloso”- perhaps these words of late President Soekarno of Indonesia are the best description.
Fortunately, I managed to remain sane, reading and writing op-eds (mostly about the pandemic, here