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We have no time to lose, conclude talks on patent waiver proposal by July-end: India

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Getty ImagesIndia has suggested to the WTO members to begin text-based negotiations from mid-June on the temporary TRIPs waiver proposal to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as there is no time to lose and countries should look at concluding the talks by July-end. The country would also like to enter into line-by-line negotiations on the text and it is open and flexible to engage in all possible formats, whether, in plenary or small group meetings, India said in a statement on TRIPs waiver proposal in the formal TRIPs Council Meeting on June 8-9 in Geneva.

“We would like negotiations to begin after this formal meeting, i.e., by mid-June…Looking at the severity of the 2nd and 3rd wave hitting different parts of the world, we have no time to lose, we look at concluding these negotiations by the end of July before we go for the summer break,” the statement said.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO (World Trade Organisation) members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPs Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

In May this year, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa, and Indonesia.

The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPs came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.

“We urge that as we are working on a tight schedule we can engage daily in the similar way as we are engaging to conclude the fisheries negotiations,” the statement said, adding any dilly-dallying would only cause more harm especially when “we are in a race against time”.

If there are any members who are still in two minds and have concerns on the text, India urged them to come to the table, join the text-based negotiations and work on thrashing out these issues, it noted. “The proponents have no intention of continuing the waiver for an indefinite period and no intention of denying benefits of IP rights to right holders beyond the waiver period,” it said.

The scope of the proposal focuses on the prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19, and includes the health products and technologies needed to deal with the pandemic. The council has agreed with consensus to start text-based negotiations on the proposal, submitted by India, and South Africa.


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