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(AUSTRALIA) #Coronavirus Report: Trade minister Dan Tehan says the European Union will not block the export of 1 million AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccines to Papua New Guinea #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Apr.23: Australian trade minister Dan Tehan says the European Union will not block the export of 1 million AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccines to Papua New Guinea:

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Europe won’t block AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to PNG, Trade Minister says: In March, the European Commission blocked a shipment of 250,000 vaccines bound for Australia because, it said, AstraZeneca had failed to honour its contracts in Europe.

updated 14m ago

AstraZeneca vaccines boxes sit in a fridge.
Hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine bound for Australia were blocked by the EU in March.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

The federal government wrote to the European Commission and asked that 1 million of the 3.1 million doses Australia ordered be diverted to Papua New Guinea, which is struggling to contain #COVID19.

Mr Tehan said he had two “productive” meetings with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in Brussels and was told there would be “no issues whatsoever” with that request.

“There will be no problems with AstraZeneca exporting those million doses to PNG,” he said.

“I thanked him for those reassurances.”

Mr Tehan said the EU commission had also written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison assuring him there will be no blockages.

Australia will now rely more heavily on Pfizer vaccines, having decided the AstraZeneca product should not be used on people under the age of 50, due to a slightly increased risk of blood clots.

Mr Tehan said there was no suggestion the EU would block the exports of Pfizer vaccines.

“So far Pfizer has honoured every contract that it’s had with Australia,” he said.

“We see no reason going forward why those contracts wouldn’t continue to be honoured.”

UK apology over ‘uncomfortable chair’ article

Mr Tehan is hoping to secure a free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

Prior to his arrival, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported his counterpart, Liz Truss, was planning to seat him in an “uncomfortable chair” to gain an upper hand in negotiations.

It also quoted sources calling Mr Tehan “inexperienced”.

Mr Tehan said Ms Truss called him prior to their negotiations to apologise.

“She expressed her sincere apologies for the article and I accepted those apologies,” he said.

“It was very gracious of her to do so.”

Mr Tehan said he wasn’t fazed by the comments.

A man in a suit sits on a wooden chair at a wooden table in a meeting room.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan sat in a wooden chair during his meeting with UK trade officials in London.(ABC News/Pool)

“I used to play Australian rules football as a young man and I’ve been knocked out on the football field,” he said.

“So, the idea of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for a couple of hours, I found quite quaint.

“As I said to Liz, the most important thing is that we just get on with negotiations and put the interests of both out countries first.

“I haven’t brought a cushion with me.”

Having left the European Union, the UK is especially keen to sign free trade agreements with countries like Australia.

And Australia wants to secure access for Australian farmers, who currently face tariffs and quotas which limit their ability to export products like meat and dairy to the UK.

The UK government has previously expressed concern about some Australian agricultural standards, including hormone-treated beef.

Mr Tehan said he was confident the UK would agree that Australian farming practices were “absolutely fit and appropriate”.

“We’ve got the best, safest food in the world,” he said.

“It’s clean and green.

“We will be able to offer the most first-class product to British consumers.”

During two days of talks in London, the ministers will also discuss “greater mobility” for professionals like lawyers, architects, engineers and accountants.

It could potentially allow them to move more freely between countries and have better recognition of their skills.

However, Mr Tehan declined to provide specifics about what Australia was seeking.

“Some of it is sensitive. We have to build a level of trust,” he said.

“I’m very, very confident we’re going to make very good progress over the next couple of days.”

#AceHealthDesk report …….Published: Apr.23: 2021:

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