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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
14 DRAFT GENERAL COUNCIL DECLARATION ON THE TRIPS AGREEMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF A PANDEMIC
270.   With all the co-sponsoring Members, including the LDC Group, Bangladesh attaches high importance to this Waiver Proposal and thanks India and South Africa for leading this submission with subsequent revision and responses to the concerns raised by some Members. My delegation also thanks you, Chair, for the process you have been facilitating to make progress on this timelimited temporary Waiver Proposal. We have emphasized many times before that Members should engage in text-based discussion on this submission as soon as possible. 271.   Now the Waiver Proposal is one year old. In the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our lives and livelihood. It has already done enough damage to developing countries. The LDCs are the hardest hit. People are waiting for vaccines. The production of vaccines cannot meet the demand. At least the current system is not functioning well enough to facilitate adequate production and supply of vaccines and therapeutics and their affordable and equitable access all over the world. 272.   Many delegations have already pointed out vaccine inequality, vaccine nationalism, and export restrictions, and that the highincome countries that make up 16% of the world population have prebooked the majority of vaccines until 2025. On the other hand, the majority of the population in developing countries, and particularly the LDCs, are left with uncertainty as to affordable and timely access to vaccines. Only about 2.5% of low-income countries have received at least one dose. 273.   We all are aware that the production of vaccines against COVID-19 is highly concentrated in a few countries. Concentrated production leads to monopolistic control of the production, supply and pricing of vaccines. This situation contributes to inequitable and unaffordable access. On the other hand, the issue is not just about one round of vaccination. For equitable access, it has to be timely and sustainable over time. As it appears, supply constraints will persist beyond 2021 as teenagers and children still need to be vaccinated and multiple booster doses will be required. Therefore, there is an urgent need to expand manufacturing globally and to diversify the supply of vaccines, therapeutics and other medical products needed in 2021 and beyond. The TRIPS Council's objective on this specific discussion, under this temporary Waiver Proposal, should be to overcome barriers to achieve equitable and timely access. 274.   We welcome any initiative by Members that aims to address the challenges of unhindered and adequate supply of vaccines, therapeutics, and medical equipment for the treatment of COVID19. Every proposal should be understood on its own merits. We also believe that our proposals should complement each other to do justice to the severity of the public health crisis. Time is of the essence. As to the next steps, my delegation supports continuing informal consultations and, of course, textbased discussions. Bangladesh looks forward to engaging constructively with Members and expects a favourable consideration of the Waiver Proposal as soon as possible.
121. The Chair recalled that on 4 June 2021, the Council had received a communication from the European Union on "Urgent Trade Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis: Intellectual Property".(document ), which had been followed on 18 June 2021 by a "Draft General Council Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the Circumstances of a Pandemic".(document ).
122. The European Union had introduced its proposed declaration during an informal meeting held on 24 June 2021. The proposal had also been discussed during informal meetings held on 30 June and 6 and 14 July, and at a formal meeting on 20 July. It had since been discussed at every meeting dedicated to discussing the revised TRIPS waiver proposal under the previous agenda item. As part of the TRIPS Council's status reports to the General Council on the revised waiver request on 27 July and on 4 October, Members had reported that the TRIPS Council would also continue its consideration of the EU's proposal.
123. The representatives of the United Kingdom; Pakistan; Cuba; Republic of Korea; Singapore; Turkey; China; Switzerland; Norway; Brazil; Mozambique; India; and the European Union took the floor.
124. The Chair thanked the delegations for their interventions. Noting that the consideration of the present item was closely linked to the previous one, he suggested to also suspend the conclusion of this agenda item, so that it could be taken up together with the waiver discussion, when the Council resumed these items.
125. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to keep the agenda item open.
126. At the reconvened meeting of 18 November, the report to the General Council was adopted and the Chair said that, it was therefore understood that the agenda items 13 and 14 on the Council's agenda continued to remain open in order to permit more time for bilateral engagement, with a view to resuming – at short notice if necessary – the meeting, when there were indications that Members might be ready to reach an agreement. [see paragraphs 93-99]
127. At the reconvened meeting of 29 November, the Chair proposed to take agenda items 13 and 14 together, as delegations had been making a single statement. [see paragraphs 100-107]
128. At the reconvened meeting of 16 December, the Chair proposed to take agenda items 13 and 14 together, as delegations had been making a single statement. [see paragraphs 108-119]
IP/C/M/103, IP/C/M/103/Add.1