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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli
329.   Ukraine would like to welcome you on your appointment as Chair of TRIPS Council. Our delegation is looking forward to working with you. We would also like to express our gratitude for your report delivered on Tuesday on consultations held and progress achieved on the waiver impasse. Ukraine supports the draft language of the TRIPS Council's status report for adoption by the General Council and we have no objections on the new dates for the next regular TRIPS meeting. Ukraine would also like to acknowledge tireless efforts of the WTO Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director- General of the WTO and Ms Anabel González, Deputy Director-General of the WTO along with the WTO Members on finding solutions on an intellectual property response to COVID-19. 330.   In light of the document circulated, we hope that achieving consensus on the most efficient solutions to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic would be possible for the MC12. Our capital is carefully reviewing the document circulated on 3 May 2022 (document and we hope to provide our feedback as soon as reasonably possible given the current difficult circumstances inside of the country as a result of Russia Federation's ongoing military assault on Ukraine and its people. In spite of these challenges, we would like to reiterate that Ukraine continues to support achieving the common goal of ensuring timely, universal and affordable access and supply of vaccines and other needed medical goods globally to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We also need to prepare for probable future health crises. Ukraine is ready to play its part in the process to the extent possible. During previous discussions within this Council, we have informed the WTO Members that Ukraine has manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector, which could be used for expanding COVID-19 production. We noted that promotion of voluntary licensing and the establishment of the collaboration agreements between developers and manufactures were the matters of great importance and interest for Ukraine. 331.   In this regard, we would like to inform Members that one of the Ukrainian pharmaceutical companies has signed an agreement to obtain a license for the development and production of a generic version of Pfizer's oral anti-COVID drug. This company was also identified by the World Health Organization as a company that will receive technology for the mRNA-based vaccines production. A lot of hard work on the side of both government and private sector was done in the process before the beginning of the war to achieve such results and much work remains to be done. Unfortunately, Russia Federation's unjustified and illegal aggression against Ukraine has triggered a variety of negative catalytic effects. For more than 70 days the war continues to cause immense human suffering. The Russian Federation's war, among other things, has also triggered health emergency. The Russian Federation troops target and destroy infrastructure, health facilities, transport, personnel, patients, supplies and warehouses. We are witnessing all plausible repercussions of such actions with unprecedented new challenges in access to health care and essential medical goods. Supply chains are being disrupted, pharmacies are closing due to insufficient supplies of needed medicines and raw materials. We observe negative effects on the pharmaceutical market. Ukraine's ability to export pharmaceutical products is limited due to damages of infrastructure and blockade of Ukrainian seaports by the Russian Federation. Despite the devastating implications of barbaric war launched by Russian Federation against an independent country in the middle of Europe in the 21st century, Ukrainian pharmaceutical companies are putting great efforts to continue operating to meet demands of the health care system and its patients. 332.   On the other hand, the Ukrainian government is taking necessary steps to support entrepreneurs, deliver on the needs of its people and fulfil its international obligations, including taken in the framework of the WTO. Given this opportunity, we would also like to inform the Council and the WTO Members on recent adoption of the law dated 1 April 2022 (№ 2174-IX) that aims to protect intellectual property interests of stakeholders during the martial law regime, imposed due to the military aggression of Russian Federation against Ukraine. The law entered into force on 13 April 2022 and includes the provisions relevant to maintaining the validity, proper use and enforcement of intellectual property rights during and after the state of war. Ukraine remains convinced that a sound regulatory environment, encouraging collaboration in the IP sphere, sharing of know-how and technology, ensuring availability of raw supply are matters of extreme importance for the development of manufacturing processes, promotion of innovations and further recovery of our economy. However, for the most of today's economic challenges, the war has become a key threat and there is only one solution – Russian Federation needs to withdraw its troops from Ukraine's territory and stop the war. In this regard, we reiterate our support and solidarity of all our partners. We are ready to engage further to conclude the outstanding agenda items within this Council.
82. The Council so agreed.
60. Noting that most delegations had made one single statement under these two agenda items in the past, the Chair suggested that these items be once again taken up together.
61. He recalled that the "Proposal for A Waiver from Certain Provisions of The TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19" had been originally submitted by India and South Africa; and circulated as document in October 2020. A revised proposal had been circulated by the co-sponsors in document on 21 May 2021, which is now co-sponsored by 65 delegations.
62. He further recalled that in June 2021, the European Union had submitted a communication on "Urgent Trade Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis: Intellectual Property", circulated in document , which had been followed by a "Draft General Council Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the Circumstances of a Pandemic", circulated in document .
63. The Chair recalled that at the last formal meeting on 22 February 2022, the Council had agreed to once again provide a 'Status Report on the consideration by the TRIPS Council of the waiver proposal' to the General Council meeting of 23-24 February 2022. That Status Report had provided a factual overview of the waiver discussions in this Council and had highlighted Members' common goal of providing timely and secure access to high-quality, safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines and medicines for all.
64. It had concluded that,
"[t]he TRIPS Council will therefore continue its consideration of the waiver request and report back to the General Council as stipulated in Article IX:3 of the Marrakesh Agreement.
In addition, the TRIPS Council will also continue in the same manner its consideration of the other related proposals by Members."
65. The Chair recalled that at the Council's meeting in February 2022, DDG González and a number of delegations involved had also briefly shared information on the high-level consultations concerning these items at ministerial and senior officials' level. A number of other Members had also emphasized the need for transparency and inclusiveness in any process that was intended to lead to a consensus- based outcome. The Chair encouraged delegations to provide as much information as possible on their contacts and activities in this regard.
66. The representatives of South Africa; the European Union; the Maldives; Egypt; Bangladesh; Indonesia; Malaysia; Tanzania,; Chile; Colombia; India; the Plurinational State of Bolivia; China; Brazil; Pakistan; Hong Kong, China; Sri Lanka; Australia; Nigeria; the United Kingdom; Norway; Nepal; Switzerland; Chad,; Japan; Singapore; Russian Federation; Türkiye; Namibia; the United States; Peru; and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela took the floor.
67. The Chair thanked the representatives for their interventions and said that in light of the discussion, it was his impression that Members' views on the substance remained relatively unchanged. While he had heard a number of delegations welcoming the efforts of the Director- General, he had also heard some strongly expressed concerns regarding transparency and inclusiveness. Overall, he sensed expectations and hopes among delegations that the current high- level process might result in framing a platform on which the Membership at large may be able to build a consensus-based solution.
68. Regarding the procedural way forward, noting the requests from delegations, the Chair proposed to keep these two agenda items open in order to be able to reconvene the Council at short notice.
69. Finally, the Chair urged delegations to remain fully engaged with a sense of urgency and with the objective to find a path forward towards a consensus-based outcome. Transparency and inclusiveness were central pillars of the WTO's modus operandi. All efforts should be made to keep the entire membership as much as possible informed and involved in the deliberation on items on the Council's agenda.
70. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to keep the agenda items open with a view to resuming the meeting at short notice as appropriate in light of developments.
71. At the reconvened meeting on 6 May 2022, the Chair suggested to once again take up agenda items 12 and 13 together, as had been the case in past meetings. The Chair put on record that, at an informal meeting of the Council on 3 May 2022, he had shared with Members a briefing that he had received from the Director-General on the outcome of informal discussions among a number of Ministers that had been held without prejudice to these Members' respective positions. On the same day, he had received a communication from the Director-General, containing the text of this outcome, which was subsequently circulated to Members in document .
72. He recalled that, at an informal session immediately preceding this formal meeting, he had shared with Members his impressions from the bilateral consultations he had held, and a number of delegations had provided first informal reactions to the circulation of document . These interventions had indicated that the majority of delegations needed more time to consult on the document before they would be ready to substantively engage on the text. He indicated that he would consult further with Members after the General Council meeting on 9-10 May, before setting out a process for substantive discussions going forward.
73. The Chair then recalled that, as indicated in his communication dated 28 April 2022, in its last report to the General Council on 23-24 February 2022, the Council had concluded that it would "report back to the General Council as stipulated in Article IX:3 of the Marrakesh Agreement". In line with previous practice, he had circulated draft language for a factual and neutral reflection of the state of play, closely based on previous reports, on 3 May 2022 in document with an invitation for Members to provide comments. An agenda item for this status report had also been placed on the agenda of the General Council meeting scheduled for 9-10 May in the usual fashion. Since no comments had been received on the draft language, delegations had been informed that the Chair would propose the text as circulated for adoption.
74. As the proposed language closely mirrored previous reports, which were by now well known by all delegations, the Chair said he would simply propose that the Council formally adopt the text for the oral status report as circulated in document as a factual reflection of discussions on the TRIPS Waiver request.
75. The Council so agreed.
76. The Chair thanked delegations for their cooperation and said he would deliver this report to the General Council, on 9-10 May, as agreed. He recalled that, given the upcoming opportunities for delegations to place formal statements on the record at the General Council, he had not intended to open the floor under this agenda item, and he thanked delegations for their cooperation in this regard.
77. The representatives of China; Indonesia; Ukraine; Nigeria and the Russian Federation requested their statements from the preceding informal meeting be included in the record of the formal meeting.
78. The Chair then recalled that when the Council agreed to the 2022 meeting dates last October, the summer meeting of the TRIPS Council had been set for 8-9 June 2022. Given that the 12th Ministerial Conference had recently been rescheduled for 12-15 June, and in light of the circulation of the draft outcome text, he suggested moving the date of the Council's summer meeting to 6- 7 July 2022 to allow the Council and delegations to focus on preparations for MC12.
79. The Council so agreed.
80. In closing, the Chair encouraged delegations to prepare for the upcoming discussions on the draft outcome text with a constructive and pragmatic attitude. The fact that a number of active delegations with divergent views had invested months of hard work to come together around a common text meant that Members may now have a realistic chance to reach an agreed outcome on this long-standing issue. It would not be easy, and it was in the nature of multilateral consensus that compromises would be required on all sides. But an agreement by all Members on a pragmatic and practical outcome on the role of IP in the pandemic would send a strong signal that – despite their differences – the WTO community could come together and highlight how the multilateral rules can help address this and future crises.
81. At the reconvened meeting on 1 June 2022, the Chair indicated that the sole purpose of the meeting related to the modalities for adopting the TRIPS Council's oral status report to the General Council meeting on 7 June. He said that he would circulate the draft text for that report to delegations today and proposed that the Council adopt the text of its oral status report ad referendum. This would mean that, unless any delegation raised an objection to the draft text of the oral status report by the specified deadline, the report would be deemed to have been adopted. This would help the Council avoid holding another formal meeting before the General Council meeting the following week.
82. The Council so agreed.
IP/C/M/104/Add.1, IP/C/M/104/Rev.1, IP/C/M104