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WTO Reform Process Should Be Inclusive, Consensus-Based: Piyush Goyal
The Minister called for removing multiple hurdles in access to medicines at affordable prices created by the WTO rules for protecting intellectual property.
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Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that trade can be an engine of reviving growth in the current scenario and this is premised on the strengthening of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) based on its principles of openness, fairness, transparency, inclusivity, and non-discrimination.
The Minister called for removing multiple hurdles in access to medicines at affordable prices created by the WTO rules for protecting intellectual property. He mentioned that the TRIPS Agreement did not envisage a pandemic where demand for vaccines and medicines would come from several countries simultaneously, with the requirement changing at a rapid pace. He said that IPRs should not block access to critical medicines and other devices required for the treatment of the disease.
Goyal said that the pandemic has quite paradoxically provided us with a window of opportunity - to strengthen ourselves by building capacities, expanding manufacturing as well as plugging into the global value chains. The Minister said that BRICS members are among the most affected countries in the world, we must collectively demonstrate a determined will to emerge stronger while being prepared to face any such unknown crisis.
Goyal said that the multilateral rules-based trading system is facing serious and grave challenges, including a spate of unilateral measures and countermeasures, deadlock in key areas of negotiations and an impasse in the Appellate Body.
He further said that for a large majority of WTO members, preserving its fundamental principles and objectives is crucial to ensuring the credibility of the multilateral trading system. He said that the WTO reform process should take into account these existing realities in the world and should, therefore, be inclusive, balanced and consensus-based, leading to prosperity for all.
"It is disheartening that we are seeing some proposals at the WTO seeking to ride on the pandemic for pursuing commercial ends. It will essentially support the quest of developed countries' firms to have unhindered access to the markets in developing countries while putting constraints on developing countries to establish domestic manufacturing capacities," he added.
Goyal further said that nations which trust each other are increasingly coming together to build global supply chains and it is trust and transparency which determine the sustainability of global supply chains.
He said for trade to play its part in the recovery process, all the partners must be "trustworthy and transparent".
"It is trust and transparency which determine the sustainability of global supply chains and nations must demonstrate their compliance with global rules of trade to remain a part of global trade flow," he said.
"Increasingly nations which trust each other are coming together to build global supply chains with corresponding investments in manufacturing and services," he added.
Goyal also said that he cannot overemphasise the need for all nations to enhance "transparency" in their trade and build trust to prevent losing their role as a preeminent trade partner.
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