Trade Rep Tai and major religious leaders hold historic meeting on vaccines and COVID response

Washington DC – Some of the highest ranking religious leaders met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to express support for waiving vaccine patents. The measure, the religious leaders argue, will increase COVID vaccine access for developing countries. 

“The meeting with Tai was positive and she understands the urgent need to increase vaccine production for developing countries,” shared Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA which organized the Tai meeting with religious leaders. “Waiving vaccine COVID patents will help produce more vaccines and save lives in the developing world.”

According to the United Nations, poor countries received less than 1% of COVID vaccine doses. The World Trade Organization is considering temporarily waiving pharmaceutical patents so developing countries could produce vaccines, tests and treatments.

Leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches and AFL-CIO joined Jubilee USA for the meeting. Beyond COVID response, the group discussed trade policies that protect the environment and jobs and prevent future crises in developing countries. 

"Religious institutions and voices are strongly urging that all COVID solutions protect the vulnerable, jobs and our planet," noted LeCompte. "This is the first time a US Trade Representative met with major religious leaders. The meeting was important because all of the faith leaders represent communities in the developing world who are facing devastating third and fourth waves of the pandemic."

In March, Jubilee USA organized a meeting between high-ranking faith leaders and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on pandemic response.

View the US Trade Representative Tai/Jubilee USA Network roundtable agenda and speakers list here.

Read about the WTO COVID vaccine patent waiver process here.

Read about the Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable here.

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Eric LeCompte quoted on The Guardian on recent IMF announcement

Eric LeCompte was quoted in The Guardian on the International Monetary Fund's recent announcement finalizing the allocation of $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full article. 

What they said about the IMF announcement

Following the news about the IMF’s allocation of $650billion in Special Drawing Rights - some campaigners are calling for rich nations to donate their share to poorer countries.

Eric LeCompte, executive director at Jubilee USA Network, a US religious development organization, said developing countries need more aid to get over the crisis prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Wealthy countries receive most of these emergency reserves and must donate them to developing countries."

 

Read more here.

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Bloomberg cites Eric LeCompte on IMF's approval of $650 billion SDRs

Bloomberg cites Jubilee USA Network and Eric LeCompte on their call to the G-20 to support the creation of $3 trillion in SDRs. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

IMF Nations Approve Record $650 Billion to Aid Virus Fight

By Eric Martin

Member nations approved the biggest resource injection in the International Monetary Fund’s history, with $650 billion meant to help countries deal with mounting debt and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Group of Seven advanced economies in June endorsed a plan to reallocate $100 billion of new SDRs to poorer countries, but the G-20 in July only specified support for a general allocation of $650 billion in SDRs, without detailing how much would be re-lent.

More than 200 groups including the Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit organization that advocates for debt relief for developing countries, had called on the G-20 to support the creation of $3 trillion in SDRs, saying the funds are needed to help free up resources for health care and social spending.

“Developing countries need more aid to get beyond the crisis,” Eric LeCompte, the executive director of Jubilee USA Network, said in a statement late Monday. “Wealthy countries receive most of these emergency reserves and must donate them to developing countries.”

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IMF approves $650 billion in emergency currency to combat pandemic

Washington DC – The IMF Board of Governors convened a special virtual session for final approval of US $650 billion in emergency reserve currency or Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). Countries will receive their share of Special Drawing Rights on August 23rd.

“More than $200 billion of these new reserve funds will go to developing countries to support pandemic relief and recovery efforts,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “While these resources are needed, developing countries must receive more aid to get beyond the crisis.”

More than $400 billion of the emergency currency goes to wealthy countries. Wealthy countries can donate their SDRs to developing countries directly, or through initiatives from the IMF or development banks.

“Most wealthy countries don't need their share of Special Drawing Rights and they need to donate them quickly to developing countries struggling with the health and economic crisis,” stated LeCompte.

Read Jubilee USA's IMF COVID response letter calling for Special Drawing Rights aid with nearly 270 signatories here.

 

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Accounting Today quotes Eric LeCompte on corporate tax increases

Eric LeCompte is quoted on Accounting Today on how the U.S. and other countries are moving forward on increasing tax rates on multinational corporations. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

Corporate tax increases move closer to reality

By Michael Cohn

Earlier this month, G-20 leaders agreed on a plan to impose a minimum tax rate of 15% on corporations and to keep companies from shifting their profits to low-tax countries. New data released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicated that multinational corporations have continued to shift their profits to other countries despite record low tax rates. 

Advocates for raising corporate tax rates are hoping the OECD and the G-20 will go even further in their negotiations. “To some degree, the devil is in the details,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, a coalition of more than 750 religious groups and organizations. “We don’t really have a final plan yet, but the commitments that we have are very important. The plan calls for a minimum global corporate tax of at least 15%. That’s where negotiations are starting. Certainly we don’t believe that’s going to be enough, but it’s a good start, and we’re really hoping that with continuing negotiations, we’re able to get above 20% for a global minimum corporate tax."

“A big part of moving forward is trying to get the entire world on board,” said LeCompte. “At this point [over] 130 countries have endorsed the OECD working proposal on these tax issues, but we have a number of countries big and small that have not signed on or endorsed it yet."

 

Read more here.

 

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Jubilee USA statement on World Trade Organization meeting

The World Trade Organization closed two-day meetings on pandemic response policies that included a proposal to temporarily wave COVID vaccine patents.  

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert, releases the following statement on the World Trade Organization meetings:

“We must act quickly to increase vaccine production and ensure everyone can access COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. 

"Unfortunately, the WTO failed to agree on a temporary patent waiver.

“Waiving pharmaceutical patents is necessary for more countries to produce and procure COVID vaccines and ultimately end the pandemic.

“World leaders fail to act and millions of people will suffer and die because they can't access vaccines."

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Puerto Rico job creation bill introduced in Senate

Companies could get tax breaks for creating jobs in Puerto Rico, under a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D) and Roger Wicker (R). If passed, the Territory Economic Development Tax Credit Act seeks to increase employment and investment in the US territories.

“Puerto Rico needs good jobs to see long-term economic recovery,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Debt relief and natural disaster recovery aid will not be enough to reduce the island's high poverty rates. Jobs are a big part of the solution.”

Puerto Rico religious leaders, US religious bodies and Jubilee USA Network advocate returning manufacturing jobs to the island. In February, 20 major Puerto Rico and US religious leaders asked President Biden to act on their jobs proposal.

Last year, Puerto Rico religious leaders wrote Congress to support island pharmaceutical and personal protective equipment manufacturing to help fight COVID-19 and promote job growth. Then-President Trump expressed support for the measures. 

“We are grateful that Senators Menendez and Wicker are leading this bipartisan action that can support economic recovery and fight poverty,” stated LeCompte.

Read the Jubilee USA Puerto Rico and US Religious Leaders Letter to President Biden here.

Read the Puerto Rico Religious Leader Stimulus Letter to Congress here.

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Alabama political reporter features Eric LeCompte on lifting vaccine patents

Eric LeCompote was interviewed by the Alabama Political Reporter on the WTO's meeting this week to consider temporarily lifting vaccine patent protections. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

WTO to meet to consider temporarily lifting vaccine patent protection

By Brandon Moseley 

The World Trade Organization is meeting to discuss waiving vaccine patents to make it easier for countries to access COVID vaccines. The global trade body will review the proposal to waive pharmaceutical vaccine patents as part of a menu of trade pandemic response policies.

Eric LeCompte is the executive director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Not enough vaccines are getting to developing countries,” said LeCompte. “Part of the solution is supporting countries to produce the vaccines that they and other countries desperately need.”

LeCompte is advocating on behalf of this proposal as well as others under consideration and debate this week at the WTO.

According to the United Nations, wealthy countries received 82 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine doses, while poor nations received less than 1 percent. LeCompte told APR that, “75 percent of the total vaccine dosages manufactured to date have gone to just ten countries – the wealthiest countries.”

 

Read more here.

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WTO reviews vaccine patents and pandemic response options

A proposal in front of the World Trade Organization could make it easier for countries to access COVID vaccines. This week the global trade body reviews the proposal to waive pharmaceutical vaccine patents as part of a menu of trade pandemic response policies. 

“Not enough vaccines are getting to developing countries,” noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Part of the solution is supporting countries to produce the vaccines that they and other countries desperately need."

According to the United Nations, wealthy countries received 82% of COVID vaccine doses, while poor nations received less than 1%. The US government supports WTO action to temporarily waive vaccine patents. The WTO is not expected to act on the proposal until the fall.

“Every moment we delay acting, means more lives lost and more countries face prolonged economic crises,” said LeCompte.

Read about the WTO COVID vaccine patent waiver process here.

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IMF extends zero-interest lending to poor countries

IMF Can Sell Gold Reserves to Extend Aid to Developing Countries

Washington DC – The IMF announced increased zero-interest lending for poor countries. IMF member countries further committed to investigate additional options to extend pandemic aid through 2029, including the selling of IMF gold reserves.

“Poor countries need more support to confront the health and economic devastation caused by the coronavirus,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. "While the IMF action is helpful, it still falls short of delivering the support developing countries need." 

The Fund's announcement means zero-interest poor country lending increases through the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. Last year the IMF facility boosted lending for poor country COVID response. An IMF paper listed a limited sale of IMF gold reserves as a way to meet funding shortfalls.

“In the past IMF gold reserves were sold to support poor countries," stated LeCompte. LeCompte's organization Jubilee USA organized nearly 270 religious and development groups to sign a letter to the IMF calling for COVID response aid including the selling of IMF gold. "Most of the world's people face incredible suffering because of the pandemic. All funding options must be on the table."

Read Jubilee USA's IMF COVID response letter with nearly 270 signatories here.

Read the IMF policy paper on zero-interest lending here.

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WPFW features Olivia Engling in a segment at the Interfaith Vigil for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Access

WPFW 89.3FM's AfricaNow! with Mwiza Munthali features Jubilee USA's Olivia Engling speaking at the Interfaith Vigil for Global COVID-19 Access. Engling speaks on actions to address global COVID-19 vaccine access. Click here to listen to the episode from 47:52 to 49:58.

AfricaNow! Jul. 21, 2021 Voices for COVID Vaccine Access

By Mwiza Munthali

Selected Statements from Olivia Engling

"In order to recover, we must move forward together. Protecting our neighbors protects us, both locally and internationally. We live in a global world, where our actions and inactions impact people everywhere."

"Our faith traditions call on us to care for the sick and respond to the needs of the poor in our society. Thus, as people of faith, we call on President Biden and other key decision-makers to share the knowledge, technology and intellectual property to make safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, including through multilateral technology sharing initiatives."

"Through scientists’ God-given talents, their expertise and lots of hard work, there are vaccines, vaccines which many of us here have taken, that enable us to live fuller, freer and safer lives. But God gives through us, not just to us.  We are called to be stewards and must steward this life-saving technology for the good of all."

"While vaccine donations are helpful, the solution, the way out of the pandemic lies in enabling more countries to produce and procure vaccines."

"We call on G7 countries to find consensus on a broad TRIPS waiver to support scaled-up production and procurement of vaccines and all pharmaceutical and medical products needed to protect the health and lives of all, but especially the most vulnerable."

"This situation is unprecedented in our lifetimes and we need to take unprecedented action - action that is effective, global and immediate."

Click here to listen to the episode from 47:52 to 49:58.

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Eric LeCompte quoted in the Khaleej Times on World Bank's crisis response

Eric LeCompte was quoted in the Khaleej Times on the World Bank's largest-ever crisis response of $157 billion to help fight COVID-19. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

World Bank Group deploys over $157b to fight Covid

By Issac John

The World Bank Group has deployed over $157 billion — its largest-ever crisis response yet — to fight the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on health, economic and social fronts during the past 15 months.

This “unprecedented level of support” represents an increase of more than 60 percent over the 15-month period prior to the pandemic, the bank said on Monday.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious-affiliated development group Jubilee USA Network, said that the IMF action would allow developing countries to immediately receive more than $200 billion in support.

“Wealthy countries who receive emergency reserves they don’t need should transfer those resources to developing countries struggling through the pandemic,” LeCompte said.

 

Read more here. 

 

 

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