Time is of essence, need to deliver on TRIPS waiver proposal in couple of quarters: Indian Ambassador to WTO

Economy


Emphasising on the urgency to take a decision on India’s and South Africa’s proposal in the WTO about temporary waiver of certain provisions of intellectual property rights‘ agreement for tackling COVID-19, India on Tuesday said time is of essence and more damage will happen if countries do not deliver in a couple of quarters. In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all World Trade Organization (WTO) members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

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 are not against IP rights ….When we talk about a temporary waiver in IPR, it should not be judged as we are against IPRs in perpetuity…Time is the essence, that if we are not delivering in couple of quarters, larger damage is going to happen in the world,” said Brajendra Navnit, Indian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO.

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He was speaking at a webinar on ‘High Level Dialogue: TRIPS Waiver – If Not Now, Then When?’.

Citing examples of certain diseases like measles, Navnit said the world needs global immunisation to get rid of coronavirus.

“Anyone thinking that we are safe because we are vaccinating our own population, it is not going to happen because we have seen that in measles and smallpox…We have seen that when you do global immunisation, then only you can get rid of the virus and therefore our plea to the world is that we must take leadership and provide 10 billion doses of (COVID) vaccines in couple of quarters and whatever it takes to do that, the leadership do that,” he said.

While over 100 WTO member countries are supporting the proposal, rich nations such as the US are against this.

Expressing hope of a breakthrough, the ambassador said that “we started with two countries (India and South Africa), seven months back and today we have support from more than 100 countries….So I am not losing hope….Often I say that science has delivered, whether WTO will deliver.”

However, he said initially members opposing the proposal were asking genuine questions and not delaying things, but from January-February, they got into delaying tactics.

Speaking at the event, Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, South Africa’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO, said, “We are in the process of reviewing the proposal.”



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