Geneva [Switzerland]: India has expressed disappointment and concerns about some reference in the TRIPS document draft presented at the 12th ministerial meet that does not include effective measures to combat challenges posed by pandemic, especially for the developing countries and least developed countries, and profits of pharma companies prevailing over global good.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said if it’s only vaccines that were being looked at, it’s too late in the day for the pandemic has run its initial course.
“In the course of my discussions, it has been indicated that favour was being done to the developing countries. Well, if it’s only vaccines that we are looking at providing, I think it’s too late in the day for that the pandemic has run its initial course, currently vaccines are not in short supply,” said Piyush Goyal.
“And if you’re not even able to look at the near term future and the requirements of that period, then I think it’s pretty much clear that rather than concern for humanity for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost or the millions affected, it is sad that the super-profits of a few pharmaceutical companies prevail over global good,” he said.
India said its response document is inextricably linked to the TRIPS document.
“The response document is the only clean negotiated document to be submitted to the MC and is a testament to the good process that it has come through, ” Goyal said.
He highlighted at the thematic session that India has made several compromises along the way to make this possible, like the TRIPS automaticity clause, which was not accepted, extensive dilution of the language on IP and tech transfer; a muted ambition on food security and economic resilience, compromises on a strong forward-looking agenda on these issues, resolution of the issue of developing countries and LDCs, acceptance of issues and language India has not been comfortable with in areas of transparency, export restriction, market openness and developing countries etc.
He said “disturbing this delicately poised document even slightly would unravel the months-long complex negotiations” and will run the risk of failing an outcome we are close to achieving.
“This document, however, has an inextricable link with the satisfactory resolution of the TRIPS document. One cannot go through without the other and they both should be finalized together,” he added.
India has expressed concern on a reference to “some developing country members, and especially LDCs”, at some places in the draft declaration of June 10, 2022.
“The Marrakesh Agreement refers to ‘developing countries and especially LDCs’. This formulation is a simple recognition that within the larger set of developing countries, LDCs may be more affected. The draft declaration uses this phrasing in several places. This is acceptable,” Piyush Goyal said.
“However, some developing countries appear to be differentiating among developing countries, which we feel is best omitted at this stage. The current formulation in a way rephrases the original intent of the Marrakesh Agreement,” he added.
India also raised concerns about food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mentioning the success of India’s national food security programme, which provided free food grains to 800 million poor and vulnerable during the pandemic, Piyush Goyal said this was only possible because of the robust public stockholding programme which India runs. Unfortunately, para 22 of the draft declaration does not mention public stock holding for food security purposes.
India, at the thematic session, also urged WTO members to open negotiations on diagnostics and therapeutics. (ANI)