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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Pimchanok PITFIELD
Korea, Republic of
285.  One of the key issues in discussing paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision is whether intellectual property constitutes a barrier to the accessibility of COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics. As it is critical in striking a right balance between IP protection systems and the pandemic response, Members should work together to build a common understanding on this issue. 286.  It has been repeatedly pointed out that therapeutics and diagnostics have broader scope and IP in comparison with vaccines. Such different features of these products should be addressed in our discussions on substance. We also need to look further into the various aspects of current supply and demand, logistics and distribution. 287.  My delegation would like to reemphasize that ongoing fact and evidence-based discussions are of great importance and of great use to this end. They will also help us find an effective and balanced solution under fast-changing pandemic circumstances. 288.  My delegation will continue to constructively engage in future discussions.
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