ROAD AHEAD FOR GREATER DELIBERATION IN 2021: TRIPS WAIVER PROPOSAL AT WTO
The General Council at WTO, the organization’s highest level decision-making body, this week, discussed the TRIPS waiver proposal first put forward by South Africa and India in October this year. With this, the proponents successfully pushed this crucial proposal for political consideration before the world’s trade policy makers. The stage is now set for further deliberation in the coming weeks early in 2021. South Africa has also requested for an extraordinary General Council meeting to take this forward.
The significance of the discussion of this proposal at the General Council, is not lost, least of all on countries straining the under the mounting casualties of COVID-19 and those without any visibility of access to vaccines. More than 30 countries took the floor to discuss the proposal, WTO officials said at a press briefing today.
Proponents of the proposal said that the discussions around the proposal had traveled further than many had anticipated. “The foundation of concrete action has been laid. There will be more meetings early in 2021. This matter will be taken to it resolution”, a source close to the process said.
The waiver proposal seeks to allow all countries to not grant or enforce intellectual property protection for the duration of the pandemic, until widespread vaccination has been achieved. The proposal recognizes intellectual property, trade secrets, industrial designs, as barriers to sharing technology. The co-sponsors of the proposal include Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, Pakistan, and Bolivia.
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