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TRIPS Council to continue meeting to break deadlock on Covid-19 response

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 19, 2021

No consensus either on India-South Africa waiver request or EU TRIPS & public health proposal yet

The Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has decided to keep actively engaged, up until the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) beginning this month-end, to find a common intellectual property response to Covid-19.

There is no consensus yet either on the India-South Africa waiver request or the EU’s proposal for a declaration on TRIPS & public health.

“The chair of the Council, Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli of Norway, said he will make sure no stone is left unturned to explore all available options towards a consensus-based outcome at the Ministerial Conference taking place from November 30 to December 3,” according to a WTO release issued following the TRIPS Council meeting on Thursday.

Oral status report

At the meet, members adopted the oral status report that will be submitted by the chair of the TRIPS Council to the General Council scheduled on November 22-23.

Also read: India locks horns with rich nations in WTO ‘green room’

“The text provides a factual overview of discussions held at the TRIPS Council since October 2020, both on the proposal by India and South Africa requesting a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19 and the proposal by the European Union for a draft General Council declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the circumstances of a pandemic,” the release highlighted.

In a joint proposal submitted to the WTO on October 2, 2020, India and South Africa proposed a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS obligations for the Covid-19 vaccine and other health products and technologies.

Developed nations oppose

Although the proposal has been co-sponsored by 64 members and has the support of 100 members, many developed members such as the EU, Japan and Australia are opposing it.

“On the EU proposal, the report notes that disagreement persists on the fundamental question of whether this initiative is the appropriate and most effective way to address the shortage and inequitable distribution of, and access to vaccines and other Covid-19-related products,” the release said.

Also read: WTO summit: India to press for TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 health products

This means that the TRIPS Council will remain in session beyond the General Council and potentially to the Ministerial Conference. The chair announced that the TRIPS Council will formally resume on November 29, not excluding the possibility of an earlier resumption at short notice should the circumstances require it.

Published on November 19, 2021

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