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Fed up with delays, the EU is proposing export controls for vaccines

Here is today's foreign policy mandate: The European Commission suggests vaccine export controls in the event of delivery delays, Saudi Arabia & # 39;The investment conference starts today, and Biden's choice of the United Nations stands before the Senate.

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EU threatens export controls for vaccines

The European Commission has proposed putting in place an "export transparency mechanism" as soon as possible once anger over delays in the delivery of coronavirus vaccines mounts.

If this were accepted by EU member states, it would mean that any company that makes vaccines within the bloc – including Pfizer and Moderna – would have to get prior authorization before exporting to another country.

Meanwhile, the UK government and its media supporters are citing the swift introduction of vaccines as a benefit of Brexit. Despite EU demands for export controls, UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted that UK supplies or its ambitious vaccination schedule would not be jeopardized. The UK has vaccinated around 10 percent of its population, mainly because the UK government has pre-ordered a large number of doses and approved the vaccine for use outside the EU.

While this is not an outright ban, the EU move poses another hurdle for countries desperate for vaccines, and risks widening the gap between rich and poor countries.

That gap was revealed in a study recently published by the Economist Intelligence Unit on Tuesday that predicted that the world's poorest countries will have to wait until 2024 before residents are fully vaccinated.

Selfishness or Self Destruction? South African President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on Tuesday on the World Economic Forum's Davos agenda, accusing rich countries of "hoarding" global vaccine supplies. "This is done to the exclusion of other countries in the world that need it most," he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at the same event, seemed to agree with Ramaphosa. "It has become even clearer to me than before that we have to take a multilateral approach, that a self-isolating approach will not solve our problems," she said, adding that the question of who gets the vaccine and who doesn't will be "new." Wounds and new memories ".

Vaccines as Public Goods. In the midst of multilateralism, not much seems to be being done, even if there are solutions. Jutta Paulus, a health expert for the Greens in the European Parliament, has suggested a way out: to declare the vaccines as public goods so that more manufacturers can manufacture them. "There must now be joint licenses, because the vaccines were developed with public money," Paulus told Deutsche Welle. The idea is not necessarily new: South Africa and India are pursuing a similar approach to the World Trade Organization, albeit unsuccessfully.

The cost of doing nothing. The cost of an unequal global vaccination strategy is high. According to a study by the International Chamber of Commerce, the world economy will lose up to $ 9 trillion if poor countries are left behind, if rich countries vaccinate their populations – half of that economic damage will be in rich countries, the study says.

Everyone wins. Arnab Acharya and Sanjay G. Reddy write convincingly in Foreign Policy why respect for intellectual property rights as an incentive for innovation does not stand up to scrutiny and how pharmaceutical companies can still be well rewarded with free licensing of their vaccine technology.

What we are following today

Davos in the desert. The annual conference of the Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia, the so-called “Davos in the desert”, starts today in Riyadh with a large number of top-class participants. This shows that the kingdom is slowly shaking off the reputational damage caused by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018. Investment heavyweights like BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman will all be in attendance, although all refuse to attend the event in 2018 following the assassination of Khashoggi.

John Spacapan, a foreign policy writer, advises the Biden administration to slowly move forward with its plans to reassess US-Saudi Arabia relations and avoid congressional calls to sever relations. "If Washington wants reform in Riyadh," writes Spacapan, "it should consider what worries Saudi Arabia most – the US leaving."

Biden's U.N. election is before the Senate. Linda Thomas-Greenfield will hold a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today to consider her nomination as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield, a longtime professional diplomat, is expected to be confirmed with broad support. Behind the scenes, Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer of Foreign Policy report on the new US hires likely to take up their positions under Thomas-Greenfield's command in Washington and New York.

New START starts. The United States and Russia have "agreed in principle" to extend the nuclear weapons treaty known as New START for five years. This emerges from a Kremlin advertisement of a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden on Tuesday. The Kremlin added that Putin had already submitted a bill to the Russian parliament to approve the extension. White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not confirm the Russian version of the call, but said both sides were working to smooth the details before February 5.

Violence in the Central African Republic. Central African Republic Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada reported that government forces had killed at least 44 rebels in a recent attempt to suppress groups threatening to outrun the capital Bangui earlier this month. The offensive took place about 50 miles from the capital and follows another in the south of the country, carried out with the help of Rwandan and Russian troops. Taken together, the maneuvers mean that the government now controls the two main roads to Bangui.

Aftermath of the Ugandan elections. Opposition leader Bobi Wine accused President Yoweri Museveni of using the military and police to "suppress his opponents and suppress our rights" after he was released from 11 days of house arrest following a controversial election on January 14th. Museveni Declared Won Uganda's presidential election earlier this month won around 59 percent in an election judged to be fundamentally flawed by the United States. Wine’s campaign team will decide whether to contest the presidential election results and has until February 2nd to do so.

The UK government has advocated a new way to control the exploding squirrel population: the distribution of oral contraceptives to animals. The invasive North American species has become a threat to the UK countryside, authorities said, and their presence has dramatically shrunk the native red squirrel population.

The initiative is led by a group of organizations called the UK Squirrel Accord (UKSA) and supported by Prince Charles, a founder of UKSA.

Simon Lloyd, the director of the Royal Forestry Society, has approved the move, telling the Daily Telegraph that the gray squirrels are threatening the life of new trees and, with it, carbon sequestration and biodiversity efforts.

According to the UKSA, over the past three years it has tested methods to only give the contraceptive to gray squirrels. They eventually settled on special feeding stations with hazelnut paste bait.

That's it for today.

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Credit: JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

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