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
426.   On behalf of the LDC Group, I would like to say the following: 427.   Firstly, we align ourselves with the statements made by South Africa and India. Many delegations have raised this issue. The postponement of MC12 shows how urgent it is to make progress on this fundamental issue and to find a collective solution that is realistic or pragmatic. In any case, there is an urgent need for the Council to move in the direction of a collective solution. I fully share the position of our colleague from Vanuatu. The starting point for the negotiations must be a text. Lives must be saved and steps taken to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not exacerbate the current situation by creating a large number of victims. This will force States to reintroduce restrictions on the movement of people and goods. We are well aware of the consequences: a slowdown in global activity, slowing global demand, and economic disruption, which lead to unrest and uncertainty for economies and world trade. I would also say that, in the light of the current situation, they even cause violence in some countries. 428.   A few months ago, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, warned that the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods, particularly in the poorest countries, which are our countries. The trends we are seeing are deeply troubling. And we have often reiterated that vaccine nationalism will, in any case, not work, as COVID-19 has returned with a new variant. New variants will also emerge in the weeks and months to come. The situation is therefore extremely worrying and alarming. Therefore, at the level of the LDC Group, we believe that we must ensure that everyone will be able to have affordable access to the vaccines, medicines and other new technology needed to control the pandemic. This is a requirement for the safety of all and it is the equally vital challenge facing us today with the new variant. Multilateralism is the only way we can deliver an effective response to the global challenge. Our common interest depends heavily on that. The delegations' proposal is an opportunity to take practical steps to help prevent another tragic recurrence with regard to access to vital treatment or, at any rate, access to vaccines. The discussion that has taken place within the TRIPS Council must allow all Members to ensure that the barriers to access to these types of products and to their trade are minimized in order to foster the resilience of our economies and our peoples in the face of this pandemic, but also to build a fairer, more equitable and more inclusive system that truly responds to global public health needs. 429.   Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic many developing countries and LDCs have become more vulnerable and are finding it difficult to obtain basic medical supplies. The great disparity between countries raises serious concerns about the availability and accessibility of the medical products needed to treat COVID-19. It is important to take all the necessary steps to allow everyone to be able to have access to vaccines. 430.   Lastly, in light of the significant health challenges to be met, as we currently see the worrying and urgent situation, the Group calls on all WTO Members to reach a quick decision in the TRIPS Council and the General Council so that we can really resolve this issue, which affects, quite simply, all humankind.
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