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
306.   Chile is committed to the common objective of providing universal and affordable access to effective, safe and high-quality vaccines and medicines. We shall therefore continue to constructively participate in this discussion with an open mind and in the spirit of seeking a consensus solution that effectively improves the equitable production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. We are convinced, like other Members, that a genuine solution must involve adopting holistic measures at the WTO, including in relation to, inter alia, export bans, trade facilitation, regulatory coherence and improvements in customs. This is why our country co-sponsors the Trade and Health Initiative, which is focused on addressing the pandemic in a cross-cutting manner. We have also supported the Director-General's process known as the "third way". 307.   Against this backdrop, Chile remains convinced that intellectual property is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for development. Intellectual property systems must therefore strike the right balance that serves the interests of creators and innovators by incentivizing research and development, while also protecting the interests of society as a whole. For this reason, we reaffirm that the TRIPS Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of the rights of WTO Members to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all. 308.   Therefore, and to reiterate the Joint Statement of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Trade Ministers, we consider that we should, as a matter of urgency and without ruling out a priori any possible solution, explore and discuss all necessary avenues for effectively improving the equitable production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. 309.   We thus thank the proponents for submitting the revised version of their proposal contained in document IP/C/W/669/Rev.1, which is under review in our capital. We hope that it has adequately addressed the concerns and questions raised on previous occasions. We also thank the European Union for the submission of document IP/C/W/680 and hope that in the future we shall have the opportunity for this document to be properly presented at this Council. I would like to conclude by indicating that we must ensure in this exercise that the consensus solution genuinely fulfils the above-mentioned objective, avoids any counter-productive effects on vaccine production and limits the creation of false expectations for citizens.
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