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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
Korea, Republic of
15 PROPOSAL FOR A WAIVER FROM CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT FOR THE PREVENTION, CONTAINMENT AND TREATMENT OF COVID-19
1371.   The Republic of Korea supports the Status Report that you Madame Chair presented in the present meeting. The report seems to reflect properly the state-of-play of the discussions we had at the TRIPS Council. Korea looks forward to having more constructive, and fact-based discussions at the TRIPS Council following year. We also thank Australia, Canada, Chile and Mexico for the proposal. 1372.   For the sake of times, we would like to ask you and the Secretariat to reflect our statement made on 20 November where we shared our views on the proposal by South Africa, India and others, and where we should put our efforts to ensure appropriate and easy access to medicines for the pandemic. Korea's statement at the informal meeting held on 20 November 2020 1373.   First of all, the Republic of Korea would like to thank South Africa, India and Kenya for the proposal. Korea fully shares the concerns over the unprecedented global health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the disproportionately adverse impact on developing and least developed countries. 1374.   While we share the concerns of the proponents, at the same time, we are of the view that the TRIPS Agreement strikes the right balance between the protection of IP rights and the promotion of public health, and provides sufficient flexibility, enabling us to cope with the current challenges collectively. 1375.   It is important to remember that IP rights do not hinder the efforts to tackle the pandemic – they are in fact a vital element in resolving it. 1376.   In fact a well-functioning IP system can serve as an incentive for the much needed innovation that leads to the development of vaccines, treatments and other medical technologies. 1377.   Moreover, it is imperative to ensure the supply chain of essential products remains open, effective and seamless. 1378.   However, we also note that an effective IP system and global supply chain for those vaccines alone will not be sufficient to address the problems that the developing and least developed countries are facing. 1379.   In order to ensure adequate and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries regardless of their income levels, international cooperation is essential. 1380.   Seeking to play its own part in the global cooperation, Korea has continued to support and contribute to WHO and related global initiatives. In particular, Korea recently participated in the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council (Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID19 Tools Accelerator) as a market shaper. 1381.   As a self-funded participant, Korea fully supports the COVAX Facility - both its underlying objectives as well as its model of delivery. Accordingly, Korea has been actively participating in the discussions to get it off ground as soon as possible as one of the founding members of the Friends of the Facility. 1382.   Korea has been also exploring ways to contribute to the provision of vaccines to developing countries through the COVAX AMC. 1383.   We will continue to work with other like-minded governments and international organizations, notably WHO and Gavi, to help launch and operate these mechanisms successfully as early as possible. 1384.   Korea, as the host country, is cooperating closely with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). The IVI aims to support equitable and affordable access to vaccines for the developing world by accelerating research and development for critical vaccines. 1385.   We look forward to working closely with even more countries as partners in the IVI to help accomplish its noble vision of making vaccines available and accessible for the most vulnerable people around the world.
84. The Chair said that this item had been put on the agenda at the request of India and South Africa; and a communication had been circulated. She invited India and South Africa to introduce their proposal.
85. The representatives of India and South Africa took the floor.
86. The Chair invited Members to take the floor.
87. The representatives of Kenya; Nigeria; Bangladesh; Sri Lanka; Pakistan; the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Nepal; Philippines; Nicaragua; Chile; Turkey; Egypt; Indonesia; Argentina; Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group; China; Thailand; Tunisia; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; Ecuador; Senegal; Costa Rica; Mauritius; Colombia; El Salvador; Mali; Jamaica; the European Union; the United States of America; Switzerland; Japan; Norway; the United Kingdom; Brazil; Mozambique; Canada; Australia; Honduras; the Holy See; the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) took the floor.
88. The Chair invited the Secretariat to share procedural requirements.
89. The representative of the Secretariat took the floor.
90. The representative of the United States of America took the floor.
91. The Chair noted that the proposal had been submitted to the Council on 2 October 2020. Thus, the 90-day time-period would expire on 31 December 2020. For practical purposes, this would mean that the last opportunity for the Council to adopt the report envisaged by Article IX:3 (b) of the Marrakech Agreement, was before the end-year-break in December. In order to facilitate reconvening the Council to consider a report in this regard, she proposed to keep the agenda item open. She encouraged Members to further consult on the proposal and explore possibilities to bridge the gap.
92. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to keep the agenda item open.
93. At the Council for TRIPS' reconvened formal meeting of 10 December 2020, the Chair reported that, on 20 November and on 3 December, she had convened the Council in informal open-ended mode to take stock of developments since the suspension in October, and to continue the consideration of the agenda item in informal mode. At these meetings delegations had highlighted their common goal of providing access to high-quality, safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines and medicines for all. Delegations had also exchanged views, sought clarifications and provided information on the operation, implementation and impact of the requested waiver during these meetings.
94. The Chair said she also held consultations in the time-period between 26 November and 1 December, in order to seek delegations' views on (a) what kind of report the TRIPS Council could likely agree on at today's meeting, and (b) how substantive engagement could be further facilitated, given the importance of meaningful and focused discussions on the substance of the proposal. In these consultations she had detected an emerging agreement that the TRIPS Council should provide a communication to the General Council that would be neutral and factual, and reflect the state of play of discussions and the absence of consensus on the waiver proposal in the TRIPS Council at this time. Delegations had also seen a need to continue discussions on the matter within the TRIPS Council.
95. On the basis of these consultations, and after discussions in the informal open-ended meeting on 3 December, an agenda item for a status report on the consideration of the waiver request was put on the proposed agenda of the next General Council meeting scheduled for 1617 December. During the informal meeting of 3 December, the Chair had circulated draft language for such an oral status report with an invitation to Members to comment on this language by 7 December. On the basis of the comments that were received by the deadline, she had held further consultations on 8 and 9 December, and had circulated a revised draft status report.
96. In light of these informal meetings and consultations, she proposed the Council agree that she would deliver an oral status report to the General Council as follows:
At the meeting of the TRIPS Council on 15-16 October 2020, India and South Africa introduced document IP/C/W/669, requesting a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19, which had been circulated on 2 October 2020 and has since been co-sponsored by the delegations of Kenya, Eswatini, Pakistan, Mozambique, and Bolivia. The Council continued its discussions under that agenda item at its resumed meeting on 10 December 2020.
At those meetings, and at informal meetings on 20 November and 3 December, delegations highlighted the common goal of providing access to high-quality, safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines and medicines for all. Delegations exchanged views, sought clarifications and provided information on the waiver request but could not reach consensus. Delegations indicated a need for further discussions on the waiver request and views exchanged by delegations.
This means that the TRIPS Council has not yet completed its consideration of the waiver request and may not be able to do so within the 90 days stipulated in Article IX:3 of the Marrakesh Agreement. Therefore, the TRIPS Council will continue its consideration of the waiver request and report back to the General Council as stipulated in Article IX:3 of the Marrakesh Agreement.
97. The Council so agreed.
98. The Chair thanked all delegations, particularly those involved in the consultations, for the constructive spirit in which they had engaged in the discussions on this report. As regards the TRIPS Council's next steps, she noted that the next regular meeting is scheduled for 1011 March 2021. In order to allow for further consideration of the waiver request in the more immediate future, she proposed that the Council reserve 19 January and 4 February 2021 for meetings of the Council that could be dedicated to the discussion of the waiver request. The next regular meeting – with the usual complete agenda – would remain scheduled for 10-11 March.
99. The Council so agreed.
100. The representatives of Malaysia, Canada, Chile, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, Chad, Norway, Turkey, Singapore, Viet Nam, Eswatini, Egypt, Indonesia, the European Union, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Oman, Mauritius, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Ukraine, the United States of America, Ecuador, the Republic of Korea, El Salvador, New Zealand, Mozambique, Brazil, Jamaica, India, Pakistan, Switzerland, Israel, Colombia, Bangladesh, Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group, Botswana, South Africa, Nepal and Vanuatu took the floor.
IP/C/M/96, IP/C/M/96/Add.1