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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
90.   My delegation would like to thank you for convening this very important meeting and we would like to extend our thanks to the Secretariat for its compilation of the various measures regarding traderelated intellectual property rights in the context of COVID-19, at these difficult uncertain times. 91.   Indeed, we believe that a more constructive discussion should be continued under this agenda item because the impact of COVID-19 is still very much affecting our economies, especially in Africa. Hence, we are in favour of discussing the impacts of the pandemic in a broader context. 92.   We note that the link provided under this agenda item mostly contains, measure taken by countries to facilitate IP processes such as amendments to their laws that include safeguards to protect the interests of patent holders, and provisional IP applications for COVID-related products. However, there is need for continuous collaboration among all Members in other 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 increase access to medicines and COVID-related equipment in more vulnerable countries in other to ensure equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus. 93.   Allow me to highlight some of the effects of the pandemic from our national standpoint. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the day-to-day life at our capital and has significantly slowed down our economy. Developing countries like Nigeria who lack the capacity to produce all the required COVID-related medical supplies and equipment depend largely on importation to be able to meet demand. Given the unpredictability of this COVID-19 virus, there is no telling of when there will be a cure or vaccine despite some claims out there. In other to rise to these challenges, Members should be able to collaborate in other to make these COVID-related drugs and equipment readily available as this would also go a long way in improving prospects for a global recovery. Similarly, the invocation of TRIPS flexibilities can certainly be beneficial to local manufacturing industries. 94.   We therefore urge the TRIPS Council to continue in its efforts to play a critical role on intensifying its cooperation with the WHO and WIPO on intellectual property and public health in other to promote innovation and access to health technologies.
14. The Chair recalled that this agenda item had been on the agenda of the Council's informal openended meeting on 19 June, and the last formal meeting on 30 July 2020. At her informal consultations in September 2020, she had asked Members how they would like to take this topic forward. In response, there had been general appreciation among delegations for the Secretariat's work in maintaining the list of COVID-19 related IP measures on the WTO website, and broad support for a continued discussion and exchange based on this compilation. Some delegations had stressed that the discussion should focus on national measures and their implementation, while others had been of the view that a more substantive discussion was warranted.
15. Considering the broad support, she had proposed to continue the exchange of information at the present meeting. She encouraged Members to reflect on how the Council could take the discussion forward and whether it should keep this agenda item, given the continued interest by Members to continue to exchange views as the pandemic persists. She referred to the compilation "COVID-19: Measures Regarding Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights", available from the WTO website. It was a non-exhaustive list of IP-related measures taken in the context of COVID-19, compiled by the Secretariat from official sources and verified by the relevant Members. The list was updated continuously. She encouraged Members to inform the Secretariat of any measures that should be included on this list, as well as any information on the expiration, or end of application, of such measures.
16. The representatives of South Africa; Chile; China; Nigeria; India; the European Union; Canada; Jamaica, on behalf of the ACP Group; the United States of America; and Indonesia took the floor.
17. The Chair noted that it was important for the Council to provide a forum for exchange as the pandemic continued and that she would like to provide another opportunity to do so at the upcoming Council meeting. She was aware of the sensitivities around "permanent" agenda items, so she would propose that the Council agree to revert to the item at its next meeting, so that the exchanges can once again take place, including on the basis of the updated Secretariat document of COVID-19 related IP measures.
18. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/96, IP/C/M/96/Add.1