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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
224.   Pakistan wishes to recall all its previous statements on this issue in previous formal and informal meetings of the Council. We also wish to align ourselves and echo the statements that have been or will be made by other co-sponsors on this item. 225.   Well over a year into the pandemic and almost eight months since we started discussing this proposal, we are now entering a defining stage, and not with a moment to lose. The last several months have had intensive debate and have presented a revised text for the proposal which is specific, comprehensive and addresses the most immediate and critical elements in our fight to overcome the pandemic. The scope of the waiver is designed to cover those elements without which an effective response to the pandemic would not be possible. This includes diagnostics and therapeutics. Similarly, the scope of intellectual property for all these aspects includes patents, copyright, industrial designs and trade secret protection. The duration of the proposal is also justified and gives a minimum period for fulfilling the objectives even though the situation remains unpredictable and uncertain. 226.   We wish to welcome the recent developments including the increasing number of co-sponsors, the expression of support from many Members including those earlier opposed to the waiver, and most recently the commitment by APEC Members to take this text forward, and the support of the DG. These developments with the support of the entire membership have set us up perfectly for text-based negotiations. 227.   We are now in the final phase with a conceivable finish line. Constructive engagement on this text by all Members is the only way forward to deliver on the most crucial issue confronting us today. Time is of the essence now. This proposal cannot and should not wait till MC12. We must seek to conclude these textual discussions before the General Council in July and deliver on this waiver. For that, Chair, we thank you for your coordination so far, and urge you to convene as many meetings and in whichever format, as may be necessary to arrive at a consensus on the revised text. 228.   This is our moment of truth. The world has all eyes on the WTO to deliver on this opportunity to save precious lives and address the global inequities in access to the crucial elements for overcoming the pandemic. Let us not fail in our duty, especially when a comprehensive text sits before us to be accepted.
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