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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
United States of America
377.   We wish to thank South Africa, India, and the other proponents of revised document IP/C/W/669.Rev.1 for their presentation and for their remarks. As we have indicated consistently, including at the informal meeting on 28 May, our top priority is saving lives and ending the pandemic around the world and in the United States. 378.   It is our aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible. The United States is continuing to ramp up its efforts - working with the private sector and all possible partners - to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. Just last week, President Biden announced a US commitment to share a total of 80 million doses by the end of June. 379.   This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The United States believes strongly in intellectual property protections. But we must do what is necessary to accelerate manufacturing and equitable distribution of vaccines. 380.   In the view of the United States, the WTO must show that it can step up in a global crisis and act efficiently to improve the lives of ordinary people. We must all come together to find a solution expeditiously, especially as the pandemic continues to spread with new variants. As noted in our 5 May announcement, the United States has endorsed initiating a process at the WTO. We have not prejudged an outcome. 381.   While we are still reviewing the revised proposal, our initial reaction is that it is a relatively modest change. While we recognize it is not for the proponents to negotiate with themselves, it is a shared responsibility to find common ground and to respond to the issues raised by other Members, and time is of the essence. 382.   In our view, the most expeditious pathway toward consensus would be to focus our efforts on what actions might be needed to address the supply and distribution of vaccines specifically. For our efforts to have an immediate effect, a revised scope for discussion seems the most promising next step. 383.   We recognize that the consensus-based nature of the WTO and the complexity of the issues involved mean that this will be a time-consuming process. Therefore, it is imperative that we focus our efforts in the areas that are most likely to lead to acceptance by others as quickly as possible. We continue to hope our support for engaging in a text-based discussion will spur additional proposals or ideas to be put on the table. 384.   We are glad to see we are making progress toward a process at the WTO on these issues and thank the European Union for its recent submission. We would welcome hearing whether there is consensus to have open and honest conversations about what can be done in this space. We continue to encourage others to step forward with something to which they can say yes.
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