The Emerging Path to the TRIPS Waiver

With just a fortnight left for the 12th WTO ministerial conference, WTO members continue to diverge on the TRIPS Waiver proposal that many believe will bolster the response to COVID-19. But countries hope that they will be able to find convergence on a potential waiver to ensure a strong outcome on WTO’s response to the pandemic on intellectual property issues. Members are exploring ways in which vaccine manufacturers who are ready to produce, should be able to begin production of COVID-19 vaccines without worrying about patents. But it is unclear which route this could take – whether under existing TRIPS flexibilities … Continue reading The Emerging Path to the TRIPS Waiver

Examining the “subtle shift” in the TRIPS Waiver talks

The EU calls on South Africa to resolve impasse Over the last two weeks, there have been indications of some behind-the-scenes movement that show WTO members’ willingness to arrive at a consensus on the intellectual property response to the pandemic. Although at the face of it, there has been no structural change in the way countries have aligned on the TRIPS Waiver discussions, nevertheless there has been greater engagement among members, sources familiar with the discussions say. As we reported last week, during the General Council meeting at the WTO, officials had suggested “a subtle shift” in these discussions. What continues … Continue reading Examining the “subtle shift” in the TRIPS Waiver talks

TRIPS Waiver opponents ring-fenced by growing support for proposal

A month is too long in geopolitics. As trade diplomats resumed discussions this month on the TRIPS waiver proposal after a month long break in August, they returned to changing contours of these discussions. At the face of it, not much has changed namely that the key opponents including the EU, Switzerland and the UK, have continued to dig into their heels, resisting the approach to temporarily waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 medical products. In the meantime, the co-sponsors were joined by more WTO members including Jordan and Malaysia. Australia and China have also said that they will support the … Continue reading TRIPS Waiver opponents ring-fenced by growing support for proposal

The Writing on the Wall? The EU Seeks to Steer Talks Away from the TRIPS Waiver Proposal

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 … Continue reading The Writing on the Wall? The EU Seeks to Steer Talks Away from the TRIPS Waiver Proposal

Confidential Communication on the TRIPS Waiver Shows the EU’s Unwillingness to Negotiate

When the European Commission presented a proposal in June 2021 laying out its strategy on the role of intellectual property in addressing the pandemic, critics were quick to conclude that it was an effort to undermine the TRIPS waiver. Yet, many diplomats at the WTO hoped to engage in what they call “good faith negotiations”. Internal communications suggest this may not be the case. A confidential communication sent by diplomats of a Western European Country in June 2021, has come to light that illustrates the EU’s stated reluctance to negotiate the waiver proposal. Experts suggest that it also reveals the problematic ways … Continue reading Confidential Communication on the TRIPS Waiver Shows the EU’s Unwillingness to Negotiate

Countries wrestle with regulatory data, trade secrets and tech transfer: TRIPS Waiver discussions at WTO

As countries get deeper into discussions on how a potential waiver of certain obligations of the TRIPS agreement can be implemented, they are beginning to engage with the question on how the implementation of such a proposal can look like at the national level.   Even as a small group of countries including the EU, UK, Switzerland, among others continue to remain entrenched in their positions, unconvinced that a temporary suspension of intellectual property rules will help address the pandemic effectively, in general, the WTO membership continues to clarify certain questions in the on-going negotiations unfolding at the bilateral level … Continue reading Countries wrestle with regulatory data, trade secrets and tech transfer: TRIPS Waiver discussions at WTO

Vaccines falling through the cracks in the regulatory mosaic

The ongoing goof-up around European Union’s prized vaccine certificates which do not recognize some WHO-approved vaccines, has brought back to life memories on governmental dysfunctions. Having spent a substantial part of my life in India, I am long used to bureaucratic delays, inexplicable and convoluted ways in which red tape eats into productive hours. It is a fact of life. Indians mostly account for unanticipated surprises from unimaginative public servants who put the letter of the law above the spirit of it, and are often, averse to common sense. Watching vaccine barriers go up in the EU, on the back … Continue reading Vaccines falling through the cracks in the regulatory mosaic

TRIPS Talks: Interview with João Aguiar Machado, EU Ambassador to the WTO

THE GENEVA HEALTH FILES INTERVIEW “Only a multi-pronged approach will bring about real change” Q&A: João Aguiar Machado, EU Ambassador to the WTO As WTO members continue to negotiate on ways to streamline, adapt intellectual property rules in the response to the pandemic, we bring you this timely interview with EU’s ambassador to the WTO, João Aguiar Machado. He discusses the different strands in the EU’s overall strategy on trade and health at the WTO in the context of this health emergency. Later this week, members head to an informal TRIPS Council meeting on 30 June to discuss South Africa-India’s … Continue reading TRIPS Talks: Interview with João Aguiar Machado, EU Ambassador to the WTO

The importance of the scope of the TRIPS Waiver. Talks off to a tough start at WTO

Why the scope of the TRIPS Waiver is crucial to address the pandemic? Tough start to the negotiations on the TRIPS Waiver. Countries remain divided, but agree to engage. The U.S. does not commit to a deadline to reach decision on TRIPS Waiver talks In today’s update on the TRIPS Waiver talks, we look at the informal meeting among WTO members on June 17 where countries agreed on a roadmap for the negotiations. We also look at the substantive elements in the revised proposal and the procedural aspects to this discussion. For this story, we had extensive interviews with diplomatic sources … Continue reading The importance of the scope of the TRIPS Waiver. Talks off to a tough start at WTO

Stage set for TRIPS Talks: An intense summer of negotiations for Geneva

After months of pushing for a blanket, time-bound, waiver on intellectual property protections to effectively address the pandemic, South Africa and India joined by more than 60 co-sponsors of the TRIPS Waiver proposal, finally managed to get the WTO membership to agree to talk text. Members will convene at an informal meeting on 17 June to assess how they can move forward ahead of General Council meeting in July. Notably, UK, Switzerland, EU, Korea, remain opposed to the waiver proposal. As many as 48 delegations took the floor this week, during the TRIPS Council formal meeting. Image credit: Photo by Sandeep Ket from Pexels To read … Continue reading Stage set for TRIPS Talks: An intense summer of negotiations for Geneva