Internal solutions to sourcing medical equipment will need to be found

(Title Image: iStock via UK Government)

Here’s a summary of this afternoon’s questions to International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales).

Brexit negotiations “should be pushed back” due to crisis

Shadow International Affairs Minister, Darren Millar (Con, Clwyd West), raised the matter of Welsh people who may be stuck abroad due to travel restrictions introduced to deal with the pandemic. One such group would be people working in Welsh Government overseas offices.

There was also an issue of trade. Restrictions will impact exporting and importing businesses quite hard, while relations may become strained as a result of actions taken to deal with the pandemic.

The Minister told the Senedd that many of the overseas office workers – including those in three Chinese cities – were working from home. Most of the support and advice for Welsh people overseas would come through the UK’s Foreign Office.

On trade, the Minister called for Brexit to be pushed back:

“Trade contributes about 22% of the GDP to the economy of Wales, so it’s something that we have to take very seriously. Obviously, we are particularly concerned about the trade negotiations that should be ongoing with the EU in relation to Brexit, knowing that that deadline is coming up. We, of course, would advocate that it should probably be pushed back now, under the circumstances. There is another trade negotiation that was due to start next week with the United States, and obviously, it’s impossible for those trade negotiators now to get to the States to start those negotiations.”
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan

Sourcing medical equipment from abroad

Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West) understood the strain the pandemic would be putting on the Minister’s department, but one issue that needs urgent addressing was a lack of specialist medical equipment – particularly ventilators – with border controls being put in place. Were there any international negotiations taking place on sourcing medical equipment?

The Minister was upfront about the challenges:

“What we have to note is that all of these countries are eager to keep their own ventilators, and that’s why the Government in the UK and in Wales as well are trying to encourage businesses, particularly those that are engineering firms, to adapt what they manufacture so that they can build ventilators for this crisis.”
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan

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