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Members pursue convergence for an IP COVID-19 response
World Trade Organization
14 October 2021
At a meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on 13-14 October 2021, WTO members noted encouraging exchanges at recent small group discussions and bilateral meetings which helped to identify points of convergence on how to provide a common intellectual property (IP) response to COVID-19. The chair of the TRIPS Council, Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli of Norway, announced he would continue to consult with members on how to move towards a consensus before the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), to be held on 30 November — 3 December

Members appreciated the opportunities provided by recent small group and bilateral meetings to discuss issues related to the scope and implementation of the revised TRIPS waiver proposal first put forward by South Africa and India (IP/C/W/669/Rev.1) as well as the proposal for a draft General Council Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the circumstances of a pandemic (IP/C/W/681) from the European Union, particularly with regards the use of current TRIPS compulsory licensing provisions.

Some delegations said that the results of those discussions were “encouraging” and helped to identify “important points of convergence”. Others said that further conversations that move the TRIPS Council towards evidence-based and pragmatic solutions should be the next step guiding their discussions at this critical juncture, with only seven weeks left before MC12.

Co-sponsors of the TRIPS waiver proposal reiterated that this initiative should be an integral part of any successful MC12 outcome and urged members to move beyond the binary approach between the two proposals on the table and engage constructively to secure consensus. Members also underlined the importance of aligning the facilitation process under Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand and the work by the TRIPS Council chair, so that a comprehensive package on trade and health leading to a multilateral and horizontal response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be achieved.

Some members noted the consensus-based nature of the WTO and the complexity of the issues involved, and flagged the risk of not achieving an outcome unless delegations are able to make some real compromises. A positive and meaningful outcome at MC12 on the IP response to the pandemic would not only send a powerful message of global solidarity, but would also be proof that the WTO has the ability to respond to a major global crisis, these members added…

Members noted the WTO Secretariat’s updated compilation “COVID-19: Measures Regarding Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights” that is available on the WTO website. This non-exhaustive list, compiled from official sources, represents an informal situation report and an attempt to provide transparency with respect to measures related to intellectual property rights taken in the COVID-19 context. The chair stressed that the list is updated continuously, even if the rate at which new measures are brought to the Secretariat’s attention is slowing down…