India, South Africa’s patent waiver proposal in WTO achieved tremendous mileage, progression: Commerce Secretary


“India and South Africa’s proposal has achieved tremendous mileage and tremendous progression at a very fast pace,” Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said

The proposal of India and South Africa on providing temporary patent waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has achieved tremendous mileage and progression as the WTO member countries have agreed to commence text-based negotiations on it, a top government official said on June 10.

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on June 9 agreed with consensus to start text-based negotiations on a proposal submitted by India and South Africa seeking patent waivers to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said that the text-based negotiations is the way forward and it means that the members have broadly and in-principle accepted the objective behind the waiver proposal.

“India and South Africa’s proposal has achieved tremendous mileage and tremendous progression at a very fast pace,” he told reporters.

“There is a deadline that by July-end, the members are expected to come to an agreed text. So it is a very positive development,” he added.

How the objective will be given effect and to what extent and for how much duration, all that would happen though text-based negotiations, the Secretary noted.

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 TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

In May this year, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa, and Indonesia.

The agreement on TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.

According to the revised proposal of 62 co-sponsors, the waiver should be in force for at least three years from the date of the decision on the matter.

The co-sponsors have stated that the duration has to be practical for manufacturing to be feasible and viable.

The revised text has also proposed waiver for health products and technologies as the prevention, treatment or containment of COVID-19 which involves a range of things and “intellectual property issues may arise with respect to the products and technologies, their materials or components, as well as their methods and means of manufacture.”

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