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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
13 PROPOSAL FOR A WAIVER FROM CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT FOR THE PREVENTION, CONTAINMENT AND TREATMENT OF COVID-19
215.   Fiji expresses its support calling for the need to move forward and conclude this phase of negotiation for a decision on this IP Waiver Proposal. The wrath of the COVID-19 and its evolving mutation as well as the necessary tools to combat the continuous evasion of the pandemic into our society needs to be put to a halt through a means from the WTO. The continuous mutations and emergence of new variants of COVID-19 highlight the significant uncertainties and complexities of controlling this pandemic which underscore the urgency of this decision paper to be reviewed and finalised sooner. The concern and urgency as mentioned has been reflected and accommodated in the preambular paragraph of this revised draft decision paper. 216.   We have noted that the COVAX Facility, despite its critical role, still falls far behind in terms of its perceived target of purchase and vaccination coverage. This is due to numerous factors, most of which are well-known to Members, which are closely related to production and supply chain limitations thus, it would be unwise for the global community to remain solely reliant on a single arm or entity to answer the global surge in demand especially so for the developing Members who are still far behind. 217.   The rate of vaccine coverage remains unequal for all societies, some of which are more fortunate than the others. This deficiency requires global and multilateral collaboration and efforts not only in funding the COVAX Facility but more so in other innovative measures to boost production and supply of COVID-19 preventative tools to strengthen public health measures. Fiji is thankful to its neighbours Australia, New Zealand, the WHO and partners for their continued assistance to Fiji and the Pacific these recent weeks. However, we are equally mindful of our small island developing states community, likewise those developing countries, which are still far behind in their vaccination. 218.   Further we are not only talking about vaccine; we need to think of all other tools such as therapeutics, diagnostics, PPEs and so on which needs to be diversified and scaled-up to curb the evolving mutations and to sufficiently equip our various health centres and bring confidence back to our public health facilities and economies. All these has been addressed amicably in the preambular section of the draft decision paper. 219.   In terms of multilateral cooperation, we have heard in addition to the co-sponsors, the wide spectrum of support of the international organisations, and worldwide support from the general public; thus, it is only fair that we give a chance to the WTO and all its Members to progress forth together in solidarity. 220.   This is global public good and our economies are fragile and rely on the service sector, such as tourism, to revive the economy. Without which, reviving the economy would remain challenging and it is difficult for the travelling public, including investors, to find confidence in any economy. The proponents remain flexible to consider views as we dwell on the text to materialise this long-standing discussion in light of the urgent need to act to ensure that no one is left behind. 221.   Regarding the process, we have noted the indicative dates of upcoming meetings; however, in view of the textual discussions that need to be pursued, we would welcome comments in any format by delegations. In addition, we would also welcome more regular consultations facilitated by the Chair in various predictable configurations to at least finalise this text to be presented to the July General Council. Beyond the summer break would be quite difficult, as we have various other competing priorities to address before the MC12. The two months before us, we believe, should be sufficient to gather comments and responses in view of the urgent agenda.
54. The Chair recalled that the last formal meeting on 30 April had been dedicated to the "Proposal for a Waiver from Certain Provisions of The TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid-19" had been circulated by India and South Africa on 2 October 2020. It had since been co-sponsored by the delegations of Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, the African Group, the LDC Group, the Maldives, Fiji, Namibia, Vanuatu, Indonesia and Jordan.
55. Since the formal meeting on 30 April, the co-sponsors had circulated a joint statement on 17 May 2021, which had been circulated in document IP/C/W/677, and a revised decision text for the proposed waiver on 21 May 2021, which had been circulated in document IP/C/W/669/Rev.1.
56. At the request of co-sponsors, the Council had held an open-ended informal meeting on 31 May where the co-sponsors presented the revised proposal, and Members had had a first opportunity to exchange views on the revised proposal. He said that, at the conclusion of the meeting, he had noted that a large number of delegations had called for the commencement of text-based negotiations, and that he had appealed to those Members to come forward with their suggestions regarding practical modalities and formats for such a process. To Members that had indicated that they were still examining the revised proposal, he had expressed his hope that they would be in a position to engage in a more substantive discussion at the formal Council meeting. To Members that had indicated their intention to present concrete proposals in the near future, he had urged them to submit such proposals sooner rather than later in order to enrich the Council's deliberations, and given the urgency of this issue as underlined by most Members.
57. He said that he had also reminded Members that the next regular formal meeting of the Council was scheduled for 13-14 October, and that Members should reflect on how the Council should report to the next General Council meeting scheduled for 21-22 July. In addition to comments related to the substance of the proposal before the Council, he invited delegations to express their views on how this issue should be taken forward, so that he and the Secretariat could make appropriate arrangements.
58. The representatives of South Africa; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; Mongolia; Malaysia; Fiji; Egypt; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Indonesia; Bangladesh; Australia; Mexico; the Plurinational State of Bolivia; the European Union; the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Paraguay; Maldives; Chinese Taipei; the Republic of Korea; Nepal; Turkey; Canada; Chile; Singapore; Jordan; New Zealand; Vanuatu; Ukraine; Norway; China; Hong Kong, China; Brazil; the United Kingdom; Switzerland; Japan; the Russian Federation; El Salvador; Mozambique; Philippines; Angola; Jamaica; the United States; Peru; Argentina; Chad on behalf of the LDC Group; Viet Nam; Namibia; the European Union; India; and Iran took the floor.
59. The Chair said that while he detected continuing disagreement about certain fundamental questions regarding the issues underlying the waiver – and remaining questions on the revised provisions on scope and termination – he had also not heard any objections to engaging in a textbased process on the waiver proposal. In light of the urgency of the matter, he would consult with Members regarding the timing and format of such a process, which could have the General Council scheduled for 21-22 July as a natural target date. Such a process would always need to respect the principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. With this in mind, he was planning to convene an open-ended informal meeting on 17 June 2021 to inform Members on his consultations on the matter until that time, and on the possible process leading up to July.
60. He echoed the Director-General in saying that the issue of equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics was both the moral and economic issue of our time, and an issue which needed to be addressed with urgency. He said that that Members shared the common goal of providing equitable access to these products for the global population as soon as possible, even if they differ on where to place the emphasis of this endeavour. He was hopeful that in continuing urgent and focused discussion on the IP issues relevant to the pandemic, Members could soon agree on pragmatic solutions to any problems that can directly improve Members' pandemic response.
61. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/100, IP/C/M/100/Add.1