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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
Chad on behalf of Least-developed countries

391.   We would like to begin to reiterate our position of the LDC Group which is one to support to this revised proposal, the subject of which concerns us all. It is about saving lives and about ensuring that the pandemic does not aggravate the current situation causing a high number of victims and forcing states to take measures and restrictions with which we have seen a slowdown in global economic activity. We need to ensure that everybody has access in a fair manner to medications and to vaccines and to the new technologies that are needed to control the pandemic. This is a requirement for all of us individually but also it is the great challenge that lies ahead of us. Relevant arguments have been put forward and responses and clarifications have been provided by the cosponsors to some of the concerns and hesitations of some governments. It is in that same spirit that we need to continue to respond to these concerns and indeed look at the updates which are made because we can see in the revised proposal that there is a clear willingness of the co-sponsors to move towards a compromise and to move towards consensus. We underline that the proposal for the waiver is an opportunity to take concrete steps to help to prevent new tragic repetitions of this in terms of vital treatment. No country has been spared by the COVID-19 crisis. But LDCs are those who are least capable of bouncing back after this crisis because of the significant deficits that they bear in terms of development. 392.   The pandemic has ravaged LDCs' fragile economies and the global recession which has followed has the lead to a collapse of the external demand of the goods and services from LDCs and has led to a decrease in the prices of principal exports and limits in terms of investment flows. For our resources, we see the capacity of production and diversification which has been severely restricted. LDCs generally do not have the resilience that they need in order to resist to such a crisis and its various economic shocks and so we think that in the current context that Members must demonstrate flexibility and must show an approach and a vision that is focused on adopting a decision within the TRIPS Council decision that is up to the expectations of over millions, or indeed billions, of individuals across the world. With regard to a waiver for certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the containment and prevention of COVID-19, the rapid spread of the pandemic has meant that we have realized that we need a true global partnership and therefore consensus within the WTO so that nobody is left behind. We not only to limit ourselves to a moral commitment, but also respond to medium and long-term considerations in terms of the resilience of the multilateral trading system. We also share what was said by the African Group yesterday that we need to intensify our activities of meetings and other types of consultations, both informally and formerly, in order to level the playing field and to reduce divergences and show that we can provide access in a fair and equitable manner. South Africa's calendar is relevant given the significant challenges to be overcome on the health basis. The LDC Group should like to reiterate its appeal for text-based discussions, looking through towards a rapid adoption within the TRIPS Council.

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