436. Thank you, Chair. As this is the first time that I have taken the floor, allow me to congratulate you on the excellent manner in which you have conducted this meeting. We also extend our thanks to our colleagues from the Secretariat for the great work that they do.
437. I would like to inform you that on 8 March, at a ceremony with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, our Permanent Representative, H.E. Ambassador José Valencia, deposited, on behalf of Ecuador, the instrument of acceptance of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement. Chair, as you mentioned, this brings the number of WTO Members that have agreed to secure a legal pathway to make it easier for developing countries to access affordable medicines to 134. For Ecuador, this ratification is not an end in itself, rather it is one more tool for our efforts at the national level, and strengthens our participation in the broader global response with multiple stakeholders that seeks to address the public health challenges that afflict developing and least developed countries in particular, especially those which are net importers of medicines, challenges which at the local level impact different population groups differently. Chair, we echo your words to encourage more Members to ratify this instrument which is of great importance for public health and trade.