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

354.   Japan will constructively discuss various issues and measures with Members and will participate in any form of discussions thereon, including a text-based negotiation, in order to increase vaccine supply and ensure globally fair and equitable distribution toward the early convergence of the COVID-19. From this perspective, the delegation of Japan notes with high level of interest in the revised TRIPS Waiver Proposal by India and South Africa, as well as the European Union's proposal. Japan will continue to consider with WTO Members what measures will contribute to expanding the production of safe vaccines and ensuring fair and equitable access. 355.   In addition, it is essential to encourage technology transfer in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies in order to scale up the production capacity of safe vaccines promptly. In this context, Japan supports the initiatives by WTO Director-General to find a "third way" through dialogues with pharmaceutical industries. 356.   Japan has put emphasis on Universal Health Coverage. There are various challenges toward the end of the COVID-19, and one of the major challenges is ensuring fair access to vaccines all over the world, including developing countries. In this regard, Japan attaches great importance to the role of the COVAX Facility and Japan co-sponsored the "COVAX Vaccine Summit" with Gavi on 2 June. During the Summit, Japan announced an additional contribution of USD 800 million, which brings the total contribution of USD 1 billion to the COVAX Facility. In addition, Japan also published that Japan intends to provide around 30 million doses of vaccines manufactured in Japan, including through the COVAX Facility, to other countries and regions, when circumstances allow, and at an appropriate time. Furthermore, Japan has been extending the programme named "Last One Mile Support" to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all people in need across a country by supporting a cold chain system including medical equipment such as cold-storage facilities and transportation. 357.   Japan will continue to exchange views on the TRIPS Waiver Proposal closely with WTO Members, and at the same time, Japan remains committed to tackling various problems caused by COVID-19, together with the international community.
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.