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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE

261.   During the meetings of the Council for TRIPS since September 2022, Switzerland has made its position regarding an extension clear. In their joint communication document IP/C/W/693 dated 1 November 2022, Mexico and Switzerland presented ample evidence that demonstrates that there is no lack of supply and that there is sufficient manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics. There is no evidence whatsoever of an intellectual property (IP)-induced access problem, which is why Switzerland does not support an extension. The developments of the recent months buttress our position. 262.   Switzerland remains convinced that sustainable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics is only possible within the context of a valid, trustworthy and reliable WTO regulatory framework, of which TRIPS and IP protection are essential components. IP is an access enabler. Through licensing, patents and other IP rights allow the legally safe and expeditious sharing of technology and necessary know-how. Thus, patents function as bridges, bringing developers, manufacturers, research and development (R&D) and generic pharmaceutical companies together in partnerships to fight the pandemic together more effectively and more expeditiously. Suspending IP rights will block the bridges across which these partnerships can work with each other. This would be counterproductive. 263.   By safeguarding the TRIPS Agreement and ensuring reliable international IP protection, the WTO maintains a key element of, and thus contributes usefully to, the response and preparedness for the present and future pandemic.

60. The Council so agreed.
56. The Chair recalled that under paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement, adopted on 17 June 2022, Members had agreed to make a decision within six months from adoption, on whether to extend this Decision to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. He also recalled that at the last formal meeting in October – and resumed in December – the Council had recommended to the General Council to extend the deadline for such a decision. The General Council, at its meeting on 19 December 2022, had agreed to this recommendation and resolved to return to the question of the duration of the extension at its next meeting. At its recent meeting on 6-7 March 2023, the General Council had agreed that it would keep the question of the duration of the extension on its agenda again for its next meeting – and that Members would provide updates on where they stand on their internal processes. In the meantime, substantive discussions would continue in the Council for TRIPS. It was against this background, that the item was on the Council's agenda.
57. The representatives of Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; South Africa; Bangladesh, on behalf of the LDC Group; Nepal; Egypt; Kenya, on behalf of the ACP Group; Indonesia; China; India; the United States of America; Brazil; Switzerland; Japan; the United Kingdom; Chinese Taipei; the European Union; Korea, Republic of; Singapore; and Norway took the floor.
58. With respect to next steps, the Chair said that in his experience, Council discussions were most constructive when they were well prepared and took place on the basis of submissions and proposals that Members had been able to study in advance. The 10-day rule for the closing of the Airgram was intended precisely for that purpose, namely, to allow Members to prepare for the items on the agenda, so that discussions at the Council meeting were constructive and focused. The next formal meeting of the Council was scheduled for 14-15 June – and the agenda for that meeting would close on 1 June.
59. Given that his term as Chair ended with the current meeting, he suggested that the new Chair be invited to consult with Members on how best to move forward with work under this agenda item.
60. The Council so agreed.
IP/C/M/107, IP/C/M/107/Add.1