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Decision On TRIPS Waiver Proposal Absolutely Crucial In These Trying Times: India

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

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A decision on the 'critical' proposal in the WTO about temporary waiver of certain provisions of intellectual property rights' agreement for tackling COVID-19, is 'absolutely crucial' to relevance of this multilateral organisation in these trying times, India has said.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO (World Trade Organization) 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.

According to a statement by India, delivered in a General Council Meeting held on July 27-28, few members refuse to engage in the text-based negotiation. And, those few WTO members have ensured that the organisation is unable to meet the deadline set by the TRIPS Council Chair for reaching the necessary landing zone on the proposal by end-July, it added.

'The proposed waiver will enable the temporary suspension of the relevant TRIPS rules, providing the manufacturers around the world the freedom to operate and scale up production of vaccines. It is, thus, a necessary ingredient of a multi-pronged approach to combat the pandemic.

'It is high time this organisation prioritises saving human lives and livelihoods over all other priorities. Needless to say that a decision on this critical proposal is absolutely crucial to the relevance of this organisation in these trying times,' India has said.

It has stated that the current situation clearly reveals that waiting for pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily license their knowhow to manufacturers world over to supply developing countries, including LDCs (least-developed countries) has not delivered equitable access at affordable prices.

There is an 'urgent' need for the WTO members to take action, to use existing tools for improving access, the statement said.

It added that the continued uncertainty due to new variants and subsequent waves hitting various parts of the world, restrictions on movement of people, lack of retail spending, less consumer spending on services than goods , will continue to slow the recovery and should be of concern to us all.

'A differential approach to combat the pandemic will not only fail but also be counterproductive to the recovery. We must as an organisation rise to the occasion and deliver, and save the people we are here to serve,' it said.

India has also said that the need of the hour is to go beyond the 'ordinary and take extraordinary' measures to combat the challenge. 

(PTI)


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