India urges WTO members to support TRIPS waiver at informal meet

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 29, 2021

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal -

The issue of public stockholding needs to be resolved, says Goyal

India has urged all World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to rise above narrow interests and entrenched positions to support its pragmatic joint proposal with South Africa for a temporary waiver of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to help bring the world out of the COVID-19 crisis.

"We are grateful to those who have supported the (waiver) proposal, but regret the approach of some members, who are focussed on protecting the gains of a few companies, as against looking at the wider benefit to the humankind," Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in his intervention at the virtual WTO informal Ministerial meet on Friday.

During times such as these, countries must rise above their narrow interests and entrenched positions, the Minister added.

India and South Africa had put forth a proposal at the WTO on October 2, 2020 for a temporary waiver TRIPS provisions to ensure a free flow of medicines, vaccines and medical equipment between countries during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The proposal has not yet been able to pass muster with the WTO General Council as several members, such as Australia, Canada, Mexico, Chile and the US, have been opposing it.

"Attended WTO's informal ministerial meet & reiterated India's stance to support global efforts to protect lives & rejuvenate growth...

Also, called out for more effective special & differential treatment provisions to assist developing nations in furthering economic development," Goyal tweeted after the meeting.

The informal meeting was necessary as the WTO is scheduled to hold a formal Ministerial Conference later this year and attempts are being made to finalise a schedule.

Goyal said that it pained him that every Ministerial ignored the issues of interest to the developing world that have been festering for years. "The promise made about resolving the public stockholding for food security has not been met. While we are very keen that e-commerce discussion should take place in multilateral dialogue, we strongly believe that developing nations need time as well as the policy space to define their own imperatives," he said.

Published on January 29, 2021

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