Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal made a renewed call for a temporary waiver of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) on vaccines and medical products and dismantling of new trade barriers such as vaccine discrimination to fight the global pandemic.

“Our response to the pandemic needs to ensure equitable access to vaccines and other Covid-19 related health products by ensuring quick resolution of the supply side constraints. One of the ways to demonstrate this is by accepting the TRIPS waiver proposal,” Goyal said in his address at the G20 Trade Minister’s Meeting in Italy on Tuesday.

Trade barriers

The Minister said there was a need for active resolution of new trade barriers like vaccine differentiations or Covid passports, which impose mobility restrictions and impede the movement of personnel needed for delivering critical services, according to an official statement released by the Commerce & Industry Ministry.

The G20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union.

“Apart from focussing on facilitating free flow of goods, I invite G20 countries to join in efforts to make health services accessible and more affordable by the citizens of the world by enabling free flow of health services,” he said.

Goyal pointed out that India’s telemedicine initiative ‘e Sanjeevani’ has been serving millions of Indians, and the country is ready to offer it to the rest of the world,” he said.

On the ongoing negotiations on the fisheries sector at the WTO, Goyal said policy space for the future was a must for developing nations like India, not only to protect the livelihoods of poor and marginal fishermen and address food security concerns but also to diversify, modernise and develop the fisheries sector.

Countries engaged in distant water fishing should stop subsidising their fishing in high seas and gradually reduce their fishing capacities, particularly, for overfished stocks, he added.

On subsidies

Goyal, in his bilateral meeting with his counterpart from Australia, also discussed ways to achieve balanced outcomes in fisheries subsidies at the WTO.

India is committed towards the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals and is among the few countries which is on track to exceed its commitments as per the Paris Agreement, he pointed out.

“We urge members to fulfil their commitments regarding transfer of technology and climate finance, which are far from being fulfilled by the developed countries,” he said.

Goyal met around 15 Ministers from various countries one-on-one on the sidelines of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting to advance India’s trade position and negotiated bilateral and multilateral agreements, the release stated. These included Ministers from the US, the UK, the EU, Brazil, China, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada, South Korea and Mexico. He also met the Director General of the WTO.