Calling the crucial discussions on the TRIPS Waiver as a “stalemate”, the European Union this week, urged the WTO membership gathered for the General Council meeting, to consider its “pragmatic”, albeit, watered down proposal on the IP response to the pandemic instead of the TRIPS waiver proposal, a far more comprehensive approach to address IP barriers in the context of COVID-19. The EU proposal mostly focuses on the use of compulsory licensing, while South Africa-India’s proposal seeks a temporary suspension on rules across a range of intellectual property protections from patents, copyright, to trade secrets among others in order to address production shortages of personal protective equipment, vaccines and therapeutics among other classes of medical products relevant for COVID-19.
In addition, the WTO has put in place a process to comprehensively respond to the pandemic by appointing New Zealand Ambassador David Walker to spearhead a coherent approach by the international rules making body to address challenges in the wake of COVID-19.
THE GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING AND THE IP DISCUSSION [July 27-28]
The meeting of the WTO General Council saw a number of different approaches to address the pandemic, a draft declaration on trade and health, the EU’s proposal on compulsory licenses to the revised TRIPS waiver proposal and a new process under the aegis of New Zealand’s Ambassador Walker.
Last month, General Council Chair Dacio Castillo of Honduras appointed Walker as “a facilitator responsible for leading WTO members in finding a multilateral and horizontal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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