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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Pimchanok PITFIELD
216.  China has always actively participated in the discussion on the issue of the TRIPS waiver and contributed to the successful conclusion of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement at MC12. We note that on 5 May 2023, the WHO announced that the COVID-19 pandemic no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), which marked a significant outcome of the world's joint response to the pandemic. However, it must be noted that the announcement only means a transition in the level of management of COVID-19, from emergency mode to a level the same as other similar infectious diseases. COVID-19 still poses a threat to global health. 217.  At present, we are witnessing a standstill in the discussion on this topic. China calls on Members to continue promoting consultations and make decisions in accordance with the MC12 mandate. 218.  Noting the wide range of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics and the complex status of the related intellectual property rights (IPRs), at the informal meeting held on 25 April 2023, China proposed to hold a thematic session on this issue, engaging representatives from governments, agencies, academic institutions, enterprises, and international organizations to share relevant information and experience. At the informal meeting held on 8 June 2023, many Members expressed support, which is highly appreciated. With the Chair's able leadership and the Secretariat's organization and Member's joint efforts, we hope that the thematic discussion could serve as a platform for thorough information exchanging and sharing, so as to contribute to follow-up consultations on this issue. China is willing to actively participate and offer due contribution including recommendation of capable panelists for this discussion.
The Council agreed to hold an Informal Thematic Session for Stakeholder Input as suggested by the Chair.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the item at its next meeting.
53. The Chair recalled that under paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement, adopted on 17 June 2022, Members 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. The General Council had decided to extend this deadline and had kept the question of the duration of the deadline extension on its agenda, while substantive discussions should continue in the Council for TRIPS.
54. With respect to these substantive discussions, she said that Members' interventions during the March meeting of the TRIPS Council had illustrated that a wide variety of views persisted in regard to this issue. In her recent consultations on this question, delegations had largely recognized that substantive engagement will be more constructive once all Members have completed their domestic consultation processes but that, in the meantime, fact- and evidence-based discussions should continue. Some had explicitly pointed to the questions posed in papers circulated by Members as a good starting point.
55. In response to these views, she said she had held an informal open-ended meeting of the Council on 8 June 2023, where Members had continued their exchanges on the substance of the matter, including with reference to Members' various submissions in this regard.
56. She said she also explored with delegations the possibility to gather facts and take stock of developments relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic with outside stakeholders, such as international organizations, civil society organizations, business representatives and academia. Delegations were generally supportive of this idea to gather such input and experiences from within the competence of stakeholders, that was relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she had pointed out that this event could help inform not only the narrow question under paragraph 8 of the MC12 Decision, but also the broader mandate under paragraph 24 of the Ministerial Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics ().
57. The Chair said that, if Members so decided, such a one-day thematic session could be organized after the summer break in late September or early October. Her suggestion would be that she would develop a draft program together with the Secretariat which would then be circulated to Members for comments. In this context, she had well taken note of Members' preference for a balanced composition of participating stakeholders from diverse geographical and organizational backgrounds. It was also clear that external stakeholder participation would be limited to the thematic session itself, and that negotiations and substantive deliberations would remain reserved for Members.
58. She invited Members to continue their substantive discussions and to also share any further thoughts with regard to such an "Informal Thematic Session for Stakeholder Input on IP and COVID-19 and the MC12 Decision".
59. The representatives of South Africa; China; Djibouti, on behalf of the LDC Group; Bangladesh; Indonesia; Nepal; El Salvador; Peru; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; the United States of America; India; Switzerland; the European Union; Japan; Thailand; the United Kingdom; Brazil; Korea, Republic of; Cambodia; Singapore; and Hong Kong, China took the floor.
60. The Chair assured Members that the envisaged thematic session was not an attempt to delay a decision, but rather an effort to continue a fact- and evidence-based discussion that could support a decision when all Members would be ready to engage. She also said that, while there had already been a number of substantive submissions on this topic, more written submissions from Members on their experiences or on pertinent questions would be useful to support a robust discussion of the questions before Members.
61. As work at the WTO was expected to accelerate after the summer, she pointed out that a decision under paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision did not have to wait until MC13 and could be taken by the General Council at any time, even before the end of the year. Finally, she recalled that paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision and paragraphs 23 and 24 of the Ministerial Declaration on Pandemic Response were two separate mandates for Members to discuss. While the thematic session could provide inputs for both, and she did not exclude that Members would discuss both mandates together, she wished to highlight that the mandates had separate objectives and would have to be looked at separately. Paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision was aiming for an eventual decision by Members, while paragraph 24 of the Ministerial Declaration mandated general reflection on experiences during COVID-19, and reporting to the General Council.
62. The Council agreed to hold an Informal Thematic Session for Stakeholder Input as suggested by the Chair.
63. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the item at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/108, IP/C/M/108/Add.1