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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
245.   We would like to support the statement of South Africa and other co-sponsors. As the pandemic is still progressing in many parts of the world, we should not wait any longer in finalizing this proposal. This waiver is critical in ensuring that we tackle one of the key barriers to the global access of health products and technologies for prevention, containment, and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are heartened to listen, during the last informal meeting, a broader view to accelerate the negotiation pace of this Waiver Proposal. 246.   We have stated during the previous meeting that the revised proposal provides more clarity, especially in terms of objectives, scope, and duration of the waiver. We would like to elaborate further on this. The revised preambular provision specifically underlined continuous challenges that we are all facing, especially from the threat of virus mutation that are now spreading unabated. This mutation is particularly dangerous as scientific data shows that some strains are more immune to particular vaccines. This situation has also posed challenges in COVAX distribution where few Members have returned or redirected vaccines donation. 247.   These challenges require our immediate response. And this proposal shows how we should apply coordinated responses to ensure global action for unimpeded, timely, and secure access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable health products and technologies for all. The scope of the products reflects the specific need for prevention, treatment, and containment of COVID-19. We are of the view that all the health products and technologies listed are necessary given the severity of this pandemic and serious shortages of those products in many Members. 248.   The WHO specifically urges countries to adopt contact tracing mechanisms as key components of public health tools to interrupt transmission of COVID-19 and control the virus. However, many Members, especially developing countries and LDCs, still have significant difficulty to access this technology because of the shortages or unaffordable price of the technologies. 249.   Moreover, diagnosis should also follow with an effective treatment that is widely available and affordable to ensure no patients are left untreated. At the same time, protections of our medical practitioners are also of critical importance. Alongside with the rollout of safe and effective vaccines, diagnosis and treatment are indispensable elements to stop this pandemic. Indonesia as one of the co-sponsors is also of the view that the materials or components of the products, as well as their method and means of manufacture are equally important to ensure an efficient transfer of technologies and know-how. 250.   On the duration, Indonesia is acutely aware of the epidemiology analysis of the WHO. In light of this, the proposal offered a restricted time for the application of the Waiver. However, as there are many things that are still unclear concerning the course of this pandemic, there is an immense possibility that this pandemic and inequality of access to health products and technologies would last longer than predicted. Hence, the review to determine the existence of the exceptional circumstances for the waiver is needed after the three years. We are encouraged that delegations are and will provide views to the revised proposal. We are ready to engage positively with all Members for the conclusion of this proposal. 251.   Concerning the modalities, we share the views that we can start discussion from preambular provision and continue paragraph by paragraph of the operative provision. In this regard, we call on the Chair to facilitate further in-depth engagement on the text by holding as many meetings as needed. These meetings can also be dedicated to specific issues in the proposal. By providing adequate meeting time, we are hopeful to conclude discussions and reach agreement prior to the General Council meeting in July.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
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