06/18/2022, 13.41
ASIA TODAY
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WTO reaches only partial deal on patents for COVID-19 vaccine

Today's news: Kabul’s last Sikh temple is attacked; in India, references to the 2002 clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat when Modi was chief minister were removed from history textbooks “to rationalise” their content; Turkish President Erdogan changes the name of Turkish Airlines, raising concerns in business circles.

WTO-ASIA

In Geneva the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reached a partial deal yesterday on the issue of COVID-19 vaccine patents, which India and South Africa raised two years ago. For five years, governments will be able to issue compulsory licences to domestic manufacturers to produce vaccines without the consent of patent owner but will have to pay royalties. All developing countries can benefit from this decision, except those with existing capacities to produce vaccines, such as China. Patents and intellectual property rights will continue to apply to existing drugs, diagnostic systems and other technologies related to COVID-19 treatment.

AFGHANISTAN

The Gornam Singh, Kabul’s last Sikh temple, was the target of a terror attack this morning. Reuters reports that 30 people were inside the place of worship when the explosion occurred. An estimated 140 Sikhs are said to be left in Afghanistan. Back in the 1970s, as many as 100,000 Sikhs lived in the country.

INDIA

As part of a “rationalisation of content”, India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) plans to remove any reference to the 2002 unrest in Gujarat from history textbooks. “In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to reduce content load on students,” the NCERT said to justify the move. The relative paragraphs referred to clashes between Hindus and Muslims that caused hundreds of deaths at a time when current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Indian State’s chief minister. One paragraph warned that the government could “become susceptible to sectarian passions”.

RUSSIA – JAPAN

“We will make sure to exclude Japan from the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 energy projects if Tokyo does not change its opposition to the policies of the Russian state,” said State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. The goal is to exclude Japan from earning a hundred billion a year from oil production agreements signed in the 1990s.

TURKEY

As part of his campaign to change the country's name to Türkiye, President Erdogan has decided that Turkish Airline will become Türk Hava Yolları. The move was met with doubts in business circles concerned about the costs of changing the brand and the loss of recognition that this might generate for a company that presently reaches 334 destinations in 128 countries.

TURKMENISTAN

New restrictions have been imposed on women in Turkmenistan regarding the way they dress. In particular, they are no longer allowed to wear push-up bras that visibly boost the size of the breasts. A ban on tight-fitting clothing remains in place as is the obligation to wear the national trousers, balaki, under wide dresses. Married women must also cover their heads with veils.

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Rich and poor countries wrangling over respective trade barriers
15/12/2005
WTO: Holy See paper on "common good", aid to poor countries
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Clashes and protests at World Trade Organisation summit
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Seoul gives up developing country status
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