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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
363.   We thank the Chair and the WTO Secretariat for organizing this meeting and for having included this agenda item. This statement is aligned with the one delivered by Tanzania on behalf of the Africa Group yesterday. We thank for the presentations made by the representatives of South Africa on behalf of proponents and co-sponsors and support all statements presented in favour of this need to advance on the basis of this revised submission. As one of the co-sponsors of the TRIPS Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19 for a limited time, we also would like to express gratitude to all Members who have expressed their support as well as those who have been devoting efforts towards advancement of this issue and appreciate the willingness to engage. 364.   As the world continues to be hit by COVID-19 and its dramatic effects, and as daily top news continue to show that huge limitations on quantity of vaccines, and other needed goods in order to ensure the containment, prevention and elimination of COVID-19, continue to face the globe, more than ever it is time for the WTO Members to advance the debate and as urgent as possible, get into the positive closing of this matter so that production can be fostered in view to upgrade the current levels that desperately do not respond to the urgent demand, and all the needs to save people's lives. 365.   The burdensome effects of COVID-19 do not only challenge human lives, they are also continuing to reverse social and economic achievements that had already been attained, thus worsening the already uncertain perspectives as to if it will be possible to advance and achieve the sustainable development goals, as foreseen in 2015. 366.   Engagement of more countries in the production of vaccines and others is surely the most adequate way to go so that production can be improved in a redoubled effort involving new producers, and which will join efforts with those producers that have assured the vaccines that were made available up till now. For our delegation, this shows the need and the relevance of collaborative effort, as well as of cooperation and solidarity in a clear exercise to collectively find solutions for a common problem facing the globe. The elimination of COVID-19 can only be possible if collectively dealt with. 367.   We would like to reiterate our previous interventions and call upon the WTO Members to consider, with no delay, advancing to text-based discussions and convergence. In view to facilitate discussions, line by line-based debates are the most direct and practical way to expedite the work, so that progress can be achieved in view to added engagement in production process. This is the only way to increase production, as well as availably of needed goods, thus enable us to save millions of lives and ensure preparedness for any eventual future pandemic. To conclude, we thank the European Union for their presentation and explanation yesterday, and would like to reiterate our view of positive engagement to continue these discussions.
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