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Ensure effective, useful outcome of TRIPS waiver discussions at WTO: SJM

India should not agree to any text until it has been fully vetted and endorsed by technical experts: RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM)

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intellectual property | Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh | Commerce ministry

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 



Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal
File Photo: Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal

RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) on Friday urged the government to ensure an effective and useful outcome of the patent waiver discussions at the WTO, saying India should not agree to any text until it has been fully vetted and endorsed by technical experts.

In a letter to Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, SJM co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said it is "unprecedented" that the (WTO) secretariat is having textual discussions at the ministerial level without the involvement of technical advisors.

"In any case, we understand, that India is standing up to the pressure of the EU, the US and the WTO secretariat. We call on you to continue the same, to ensure that any outcome of the discussions should result in an effective and useful outcome for access and should expand the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS Agreement," he added.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Rights (TRIPS) Agreement in relation to the prevention and containment or treatment of Covid.

A revised proposal was submitted by them in May 2021.

More than 100 member countries of the WTO have supported the TRIPS waiver proposal by India and South Africa.

Both India and South Africa are pushing for a decision on their proposal for a temporary waiver of certain provisions of a WTO agreement on rights to deal with the pandemic.

"Scope of the TRIPS waiver decision should not only include vaccines but also therapeutics and diagnostics," Mahajan said in his letter to the minister.

The waiver outcome should go beyond the compulsory license (CL) mechanism and also include trade secret protection, which is very essential for the generic production of vaccines and Covid monoclonal antibodies, he said.

It should cover both patented productions and products with pending patent applications, Mahajan added.

"The WTO secretariat, the US and the EU may stress on secrecy and confidentiality. However, we should also stress the importance for each country to ensure that it is properly advised and supported," he suggested.

Stressing that secrecy should not impact the national decision-making process of a country, the SJM co-convenor suggested that the government may seek advice of experts, including those of the Centre of WTO Studies, key civil society organisations and the academia in the matter.

"Given that world over people are waiting for a good outcome, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that the outcome is sound and credible before it is agreed to. India should ensure that the South African minister shares the same view," he said.

"India should not agree to any text until it has been fully vetted and endorsed by India's technical experts," Mahajan said.

It is also important for both India and South Africa to inform other key co-sponsors (member countries) on the state of play and take them in confidence before agreeing to anything, he said.

"That will enhance the confidence in India and support future alliances in the WTO. Additionally, where there is disagreement from the EU and US, the support of other developing countries will be invaluable," Mahajan said.

In his letter, Mahajan noted that there are "disturbing news" coming from a section of media that a small group of WTO members deliberating on the TRIPS waiver are discussing suggestions to limit the geographical scope of the implementation of the waiver-plans that seek to exclude India and China.

"It is understood that the US and the EU have, in their own ways favoured a limited application of such a waiver. Some suggestions include restricting the waiver only to African countries, or to exclude India and China among other possibilities. Its obvious that India will not accept any such proposal. However, we have to defeat these proposals," he said.

He said India's fight for TRIPS waiver is not for Indians only but for the people across the world, especially developing and least developed countries.

"We need to fulfil our responsibility towards humanity to get rid of this pandemic and TRIPS waiver assumes significant importance for the same," he said.

"We at the Swadeshi Jagran Manch humbly request you to take note of the developments in this regard, and take the proposal forward in the interest of India and humanity globally," Mahajan said in his letter to the Union minister.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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First Published: Fri, February 18 2022. 17:57 IST

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