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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
147.   This is just a very quick response to some of the issues that have been raised and then just a request to have this agenda item stand over our next meeting which is scheduled for October. South Africa attaches high importance to the protection of intellectual property rights and from this point of view, intellectual property rights are important in creating the right incentives for rights holders to benefit the right level of protection is something which is specified by the TRIPS Agreement. 148.   We also have to understand that when right holders exercise these particular rights, they have to respect various parameters in the TRIPS Agreement as recognized generally in IP systems worldwide. I want to remind colleagues that Article 7 of the TRIPS Agreement addresses this issue. It reads that "protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations." 149.   In this context, we raise the possibility of IP rights being a barrier to access. We welcome the intervention by the United States and recognize the importance of the private sector in ensuring that innovative solutions are found to this pandemic. But it is not only the private sector which guarantees success in this regard. We have seen massive financial support from governments to develop various technologies and now, for example, vaccines for COVID-19. We have seen earlier in July 2020 that a private company, Gilead, had agreed to supply the United States for a projected production for the next three years of a drug called remdesivir. This raises concern about its supply to other countries. Gilead has entered into nine licensing agreements with generic manufacturers of three countries to supply 127 other countries. These limited nontransparent exclusive licenses seem to be an attempt to contain competition by creating an oligopoly. Generic manufacturers globally that can contribute to expanding global supply have been excluded. The lack of transparency and accountability in the present dire times is extremely worrying and dangerous. It is an indicator that if IP and access challenges ahead of us are not addressed, many WTO Members would fall short of the requirement to create the right conditions for access, products and technologies to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 150.   On this basis, I ask that the discussion of this particular issue be continued and be held over to the next TRIPS Council meeting in October.
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