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
284.   We commend the delegations of India and South Africa for their leadership in this process. We also thank all Members for their constructive engagement in these discussions. Aligning with the interventions of many of the co-sponsors, my delegation would like to underscore the importance of WTO Members working together to ensure that intellectual property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and trade secrets do not create barriers to scaling up research, development, manufacturing and supply of materials essential to combat COVID-19, while preserving the intellectual property rights of Members. 285.   Since the inception of this proposal by South Africa and India, the proposal has gained a lot of traction, given its importance to accessing COVID-19 vaccines and equipment. Up to 60 WTO Members are now co-sponsors, with many more WTO Members and external groups and sectors openly voicing their support of the waiver. This shows the critical importance and the urgency of entering into textbased negotiations on the various aspects of the proposal. 286.   With regards to the flexibilities provided under the TRIPS Agreement, of which we note other proposals in this regard, we believe that the TRIPS flexibilities contained in Articles 31 and 31bis were not designed to address a global pandemic of this level. For instance, a voluntary licensing system is not transparent, and often times contains stringent clauses that do not contribute to our global commitment of ensuring that vaccines and COVID-19-related tools are readily accessible in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Also, in a voluntary licensing system, the licence is often times at the mercy of the IP owner. In order to attain a landing zone on this waiver, we believe it is now time to move to text-based discussions to consider the merits of this proposal. 287.   Finally Chair, we wish to thank you for the exceptional manner in which you have led the discussions on this Waiver Proposal, and we urge all Members to move to a text-based discussion on this proposal in order to find pragmatic solutions that would ensure access and equitable distribution of vaccines to Members.
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