India urges WTO members to reach consensus on TRIPS waiver proposal
New Delhi: India has urged WTO members to reach consensus on a proposal on waiver of certain provisions in a multilateral agreement on intellectual property to deal with COVID-19 crisis, stating that one cannot continue to engage in endless discussions when millions of lives are lost to the pandemic.
Brajendra Navnit, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said at the General Council Meeting on March 1, that there is a need for concerted efforts by all the members to ensure that WTO makes a meaningful contribution to defeat COVID-19 and prove that it can indeed deliver in a crisis.
In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation, application and enforcement of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.
The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
He said that the proponents of the proposal are ready to engage in good faith and have frank discussions on the text of the waiver, relating to both its duration and scope, in order to operationalise the waiver in the shortest possible time.
“We urge the Members to reach consensus on the Waiver Proposal to ramp up production for the cause of truly ensuring fair, equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 products in a timely manner,” he added.
Quoting a study, he said it has been estimated that the global economy stands to lose as much as USD 9.2 trillion if the international community fails to ensure developing economy access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Navnit added that three months after the emergence of successful vaccines, the global vaccination scenario still looks grim.
The UN Secretary General, in his recent press briefing noted that the progress on vaccinations has been wildly uneven and unfair, and that more than 130 countries have not received a single dose.
“If the existing global manufacturing capacity can be used for mass manufacturing by providing legal certainty to manufacturers over use of COVID-related IP, which is the chief objective of the waiver, then humanity can accelerate the fight to win over the virus,” he said.
He added that an outcome on the waiver will not only help in saving valuable human lives but will also give a comforting signal to boost the consumer confidence in the economy and will accelerate the recovery of world trade and global GDP.