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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
61.   Information may not always be complete, nor completely up to date, given the extremely fastpaced dynamic of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as response measures. South Africa would once again like to reiterate its support for this item to remain on the agenda of the TRIPS Council and thanks the Secretariat for its ongoing work to update the compilation. The compilation of measures is a useful tool that not only informs Members regarding measures by other Members, but can also be a useful basis for inclusive dialogue. 62.   COVID-19 is a global pandemic that knows no boundaries. A global problem requires a global solution. We can only defeat the pandemic through multilateral cooperation, as no one is safe until everyone is. The TRIPS waiver, as introduced by proponents, is the most viable policy instrument that will halt the rapid transmission of the COVID-19 virus, reduce the risks of variants and promote economic recovery. An effective response to the pandemic is only achievable when everyone, everywhere can access the health technologies they need to detect, prevent and treat COVID-19, but also ensure that no measures are taken which would adversely affect this particular objective. 63.   We have seen that this task is made harder when Members act in ways to secure their self-interest to the exclusion of others. We specifically refer to the European Union's Implementing Regulation (2021/111), which establishes an export authorisation scheme. The EU's decision has the potential to restrict or otherwise negatively affect the export of vaccines and key vaccine supplies. In our increasingly interconnected world and global economy in which manufacturing depends on international cooperation, we are worried that the EU's decision could have ripple effects that will ultimately hinder and not help our efforts to bring the pandemic under control. Decision makers need to clearly explain their decisions. Now, more than ever, the voices of those who are at risk of getting left behind need to be heard. In the end, we must ensure that we do not do more harm than good with the measures in place. Though this measure is not taken up in the COVID-19 measures in relation to TRIPS, we would ask the EU not to renew this measure when it expires.
15. The Chair recalled that this agenda item had been discussed in the Council since its informal open-ended meeting on 19 June 2020 and had been on the Council's agenda at its formal meetings since then. In light of broad support for a continuation of these exchanges at the preceding meetings, the item was on the agenda to facilitate exchange of views on measures undertaken as the pandemic persists.
16. As one basis for the Council's exchange, she referred to the compilation "COVID-19: Measures Regarding Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights" that was available from the WTO website and contained 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 Members concerned. This list was updated continuously, even if the rate at which new measures are brought to our attention had slowed considerably since the last meeting. She encouraged Members to inform the Secretariat of any measures that should be included on this list, as well as any update or information on the expiry, or end of application, of such measures. She invited Members to inform the Council on their measures.
17. The representatives of Chile; Canada; the European Union; Ecuador; South Africa; China; the Russian Federation; and Indonesia took the floor.
18. The Chair proposed that, in view of the continued interest on this agenda item, 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.
19. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to this item at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/98, IP/C/M/98/Add.1