Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
77.   My delegation will like to thank you, Chair, for convening this very important meeting and we would like to extend our thanks to the Secretariat for its timely compilation of the various measures regarding trade-related intellectual property rights in the context of COVID-19, at these difficult uncertain times. 78.   Allow me to highlight the effects of the pandemic from our national standpoint. COVID-19 is a supply chain and demand shock. My Government is introducing fiscal and monetary measures to stabilize demand and prevent mass business failure and job loss as is the case with many governments. Our MSMEs and other firms are currently adversely affected by a trade finance shock. Developing countries like Nigeria who lack the capacity to produce the required COVID-19-related medical supplies and equipment depend largely on importation to be able to meet demand. Given the unpredictability of this COVID-19 virus, this pandemic may remain with us for a very long time as there are no effective vaccines or cure as of yet. In order to rise to these challenges, countries should be allowed to tap into each other's growth as this would also go a long way in improving prospects for a global recovery. Similarly, the invocation of TRIPS flexibilities can certainly provide certain subsidies to local manufacturing industries. 79.   Furthermore, access to medicines has been a long-standing issue for our country due to the high cost of patented drugs, and this is heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. We call for deeper and honest collaboration among countries and the relevant international organizations as was agreed at the World Health Assembly to fight this common problem. 80.   We note that the link provided under this agenda item mostly contains among other things, measures taken by countries to facilitate IP processes. However, there is need for continuous collaboration among all Members in order to cushion the negative effects of the pandemic. We encourage that; while the focus by most Members seems to be to develop an adequate response mechanism, we should not lose sight of the need to intensify in a parallel process our efforts to develop an effective vaccine and to increase access to medicines and COVID-related equipment, especially in more vulnerable countries. We may wish to recall the recent resolution on COVID-19 adopted by the WHA which, among other things, calls for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic, and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus. It also calls for an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response, including, but not limited to, the World Health Organization's performance. 81.   As we have mentioned in our previous information provided, we underscore that the mandate of the TRIPS Council includes the monitoring of the operation of the Agreement, and to ensure the balance of rights. We therefore urge the TRIPS Council to play a critical role on intensifying its trilateral cooperation with the WHO and World Intellectual Property Organization on intellectual property and public health in order to promote innovation and access to health technologies not undermining the moral right to benefit sharing.
The Council took note of the statements made.
15.   The Chair said that the item had been put on the agenda at the request of South Africa, referring to the document "COVID-19: Measures Regarding Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights", which was available from the WTO website and contained a non-exhaustive list of IP-related measures taken in the context of COVID-19. The list compiled by the Secretariat from official sources and verified by the Members concerned. It was updated continuously, and the latest version was always available on the WTO website. She invited South Africa to introduce the item.
16.   The representative of South Africa took the floor to introduce the item.
17.   The representatives of Nigeria; Brazil; China; Chile; India; El Salvador; the Russian Federation; Indonesia; Ecuador; the United States of America; the European Union; Australia; and Switzerland took the floor.
18.   The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/95, IP/C/M/95/Add.1