World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva (Photo : Reuters)
India's proposal to waive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and related health technology has been cleared for 'text-based discussions' at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The WTO council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on June 9 passed the proposal, thereby opening it up to further debate by all members. India’s updated draft of its proposed IPR waiver, sponsored by 62 nations, was submitted to the WTO on May 21 and discussed by the TRIPS council on May 30.
While India had the unofficial backing of nearly 120 countries, major global powers such as the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore had mentioned grave discomfort at a 'potential blanket suspension of the terms of the TRIPS agreement'.
As a result, a special 2-day meeting was held on June 8-9 to again discuss the issue which the latest decision has been taken unanimously, an official said terming it a 'breakthrough'.
Moneycontrol had earlier reported that India's updated proposal focussed on an at least three-year long waiver of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) globally for COVID-19 vaccines. However, the issue had come to a head over the proposal also suggesting that the waiver also include requisite drugs, medical equipment and all health technologies necessary for the prevention of COVID-19.
WTO's complicated trade policy negotiation rules do not specify no deadlines for such talks, which have earlier gone on for lengthy bouts of time. However, India has suggested end of July as the deadline to conclude negotiations.
"This agenda was discussed over two days, total 48 members including EU took the floor. At the end, chair concluded that there is no objection from any member to start text based negotiations. He will start consultation and a plenary meeting has called on 17 June to move forward," a senior official said.
The chair has suggested to reach conclusion by 21 July when General Council is scheduled to meet and in the meantime, we will engage with all members on line by line text negotiations, he added.
The proposal aims to boost the availability of jabs worldwide as vaccines, medicines and testing technology for COVID-19 can be easily shared without falling foul of patent laws.
New Delhi had specifically suggested a waiver from the implementation, application, and enforcement of Sections 1, 4, 5, and 7 of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to prevention, containment, or treatment of COVID-19.
Coming into effect on January 1, 1995, the TRIPS agreement is till date the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property and a core WTO document.Moneycontrol
had earlier reported how the waiver could cut down the end date of the pandemic.