WTO calls for urgent agreement on IPR waiver

NEW DELHI : The World Trade Organization (WTO) urged members to redouble their efforts to reach a multilateral agreement on the waiver of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics related to Covid- 19 mentioned by India to fully contribute to the global fight against the pandemic.

The WTO said in a statement that a meeting was convened on Monday by the general council of the multilateral body in response to India’s proposal to hold a virtual ministerial conference to discuss waiving the relevant protections of the intellectual property. The waiver of IPRs, such as patents held by innovators, will allow others to manufacture generic versions of these products, thereby helping to reduce costs and improve competition and the availability of such products.

At the meeting, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged member countries to urgently step up their efforts, suggesting that with the requisite political will, members can in the coming weeks achieve multilateral compromises on intellectual property and other issues so that the WTO fully contributes to the global response to Covid-19 and future pandemics.

Okonjo-Iweala called for urgent action towards a comprehensive WTO outcome on the pandemic response. “More than two years have passed since the start of the pandemic. The emergence of the Omicron variant, which forced us to postpone our twelfth ministerial conference, reminded us of the risks of leaving large swathes of the world unvaccinated.

“We at the WTO must now step up our efforts to do our part to achieve a multilateral outcome on intellectual property and other issues in order to fully contribute to the global efforts to fight COVID-19,” the report said. press release citing Okonjo- Iweala.

On December 23, 2021, India wrote to the Chairman of the WTO General Council to request a virtual ministerial meeting to discuss the matter.

Okonjo-Iweala informed members of his efforts to support an informal group of members to achieve “an acceptable and meaningful outcome” that all members can rely on to decide on the IPR issue. Steady progress is being made on the issue, the statement said. .

“There is no better time to build convergence than now,” the statement said, quoting the managing director. She urged all members to actively participate in the discussions of the general council of the body and the TRIPS Council.

The Director-General said in the statement that many countries have contacted her to stress the importance of other items on the WTO agenda, including fisheries subsidies, agriculture and reform of the WTO. the WTO. She said these areas remained a priority.

The gathering heard a range of views on the proposed ministerial meeting, including on the timing, coverage of issues and the need to further narrow the differences in Geneva ahead of the ministerial engagement, the statement said.

The chairman of the WTO General Council, Ambassador Dacio Castillo, said in the statement that he will continue to consult members on the Indian proposal. A joint WTO response to Covid-19 “remains an urgent priority for members,” the statement quoted Castillo said.

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