After almost eight months of negotiations, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) TRIPS Council has agreed on text-based negotiations on the TRIPS waiver proposal moved by India and backed by over 60 nations.
"TRIPS Council has agreed with consensus to go ahead with text-based negotiations on our TRIPS waiver proposal. Countries which had opposed or sought more time to consider text-based negotiations have removed their blockade," said an Indian official requesting anonymity. The decision was taken on Wednesday after a two-day meeting of the TRIPS Council.
A total of 63 nations are urging the 164 member WTO to remove IPR barriers on vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, their components, methods, and means of manufacture.
Last week, the Indian Ambassador to WTO Brajendra Navnit had made a strong case for a TRIPS waiver, "Indecisiveness to act swiftly on removing IP barriers to ramp up production of vaccines has cost 2 million more lives. The world is short of 12 billion doses With developed nations acquiring vaccines many times over their needs, the rest of the world may have to wait for jabs till 2023 or 2024."
Sources said it is important to note that several nations who were opposed to the idea of text-based negotiations have now agreed to do so. While this is the first big victory for India after months of negotiations, the conclusion of negotiations could take time, as every member or the 164-member WTO has a veto.
"Countries may seek amendments to the waiver proposal or even come up with their own proposals which could be diametrically opposite to what India is asking for. If there are too many proposals, then negotiations could take time and can even be inconclusive," said India's former Ambassador to WTO Jayant Dasgupta.
The European Union, Japan, Australia, South Korea, UK, and Switzerland are some of the nations opposed to the TRIPS waiver proposal. The World Bank too has now opposed the waiver proposal out of concern that it would hamper innovation in the pharmaceuticals sector.
The Indian government has previously said the removal of IP barriers would increase vaccine manufacturing and create favourable market conditions for raw material supply.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)
First Published: IST