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India to seek EU support for IP waiver

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on May 09, 2021

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EU is open to discussions on waiver but says it has certain concerns

India will try to persuade the EU to fully support the temporary waiver of intellectual property (IP) norms for Covid-19 medical products and vaccines at the WTO after the bloc fell short of giving a commitment at the India-EU Leaders Meet on Saturday, said sources.

“The EU indicated at the Leaders’ Meet that it was open to discussing a temporary waiver of IP for vaccines, but had some concerns on the matter and did not give a commitment on support. India will talk to the EU at the WTO to try and remove these concerns and get it on board,” the source told BusinessLine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly proposed to the EU leaders on Saturday that they should back India and South Africa’s proposal for temporary waiver of TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) at the WTO to ensure that there was adequate availability of medicines and vaccines worldwide to combat the pandemic.

EU not keen

The EU, however, was not very eager in its response. “While the bloc said that it was open to discussions on the proposed waiver, it also said that the role of existing flexibilities, such as the provision for issuing compulsory licences for patented products at the time of health emergencies, needed to be focussed on,” said the source.

India and South Africa will need to convince the EU that compulsory licences have several limitations, such as payment of adequate remuneration to the patent holder and a limit on quantities, while the need of the hour was a complete waiver.

Moreover, like US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who announced the US support for a temporary IP waiver on vaccines, the EU is also focussed on just vaccines and not all medical products, including essential medicines such as Remdesivir.

“The India-South Africa proposal at the WTO talks about all medical products, as that is what the requirement is, and it is important that the coverage doesn’t shrink,” said the source.

The India-South Africa IP waiver proposal at the WTO has 60 co-sponsors that includes the African group and the LDC group, and more than 100 countries are supporting it.

Published on May 09, 2021

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