By Naveen Kapoor
New Delhi [India], June 10 (ANI): India is hoping for some positive action on the TRIPS waiver during the 12th World Trade Organisation ministerial meet that begins on June 12.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goel will take part in the conference.
In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal for a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, treatment, and containment of COVID-19, to the WTO TRIPS Council.
The proposal seeks a temporary waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement to the extent that they pose a barrier to accessing COVID-19 products and technologies.
A total of 65 countries have joined as co-sponsors. Subsequently, the EU submitted a related proposal that focuses on compulsory licensing and is limited only to patents. These proposals are being discussed at the TRIPS Council and it has been agreed that discussions on this issue will continue up to MC12.
The issue was also pursued under a DG-led informal process with engagement from India, South Africa, the EU and the US (referred to as the Quad discussions). Multiple rounds of discussions at the level of ministers and senior officers took place on this subject, following which DG, WTO has circulated a draft to the TRIPS Council for discussion and agreement amongst the larger membership.
Members are currently engaged in negotiations. India is now working with other like-minded members in the WTO to achieve an outcome on this subject to safeguard its best interests.
The outcome of WTO's response to the pandemic is one of the priority items for MC12 which includes the TRIPS waiver proposal. Another key issue at the WTO that India wants the developed world to look at rationally is fisheries.
India is keen to finalize the fisheries agreement in the upcoming MC-12 because irrational subsidies and overfishing by many countries are hurting Indian fishers and their livelihood.
India believes that it should not repeat the mistakes made during the Uruguay Round that allowed a few members unequal and trade-distorting entitlements in agriculture. It unfairly constrained less developed members who did not have the capacity and resources to support their industry and farmers.
A government source told ANI, "Fisheries are a common endowment to humanity, a global public common. Therefore, the sharing of such resources should be equitable and just. Any imbalance in the agreement would bind us to current fishing arrangements, which may not meet everyone's future requirements. For sustainability, big subsidizers must take greater responsibility to reduce their subsidies and fishing capacities.
India also believes that any agreement must recognize that different countries are at various stages of development and that current fishing arrangements reflect their current economic capacities. Needs will change with time as countries develop. Any agreement will have to provide for balancing current and future requirements to exploit fisheries in marine waters and the high seas. (ANI)