India and South Africa’s proposal for a temporary waiver on some sections of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement has achieved ‘tremendous mileage and progression’ at the World Trade Organization (WTO), with member countries agreeing on starting text-based negotiations, commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan said on Thursday.
“That is a positive development…Now the parties at the WTO have agreed to do text based negotiations. That’s a way forward, which means that countries broadly in principle have accepted the objective behind the waiver proposal. To give effect to the objective, they will have text-based negotiations,” Wadhawan told reporters.
On June 9, a WTO panel agreed to begin text-based negotiations on India and South Africa’s proposal on patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines and drugs, a measure aimed at more countries getting equitable access to vaccines.
India and South Africa had submitted a joint proposal for waiving some sections of the TRIPS agreement, including copyrights, patents, to help more countries, especially middle and low income nations to access vaccines, amid the Covid-19 crisis. Some developed nations such as European Union, Australia, the UK among others have opposed the proposal.
The deadline to conclude negotiations will be at the end of July.
How the objective will be given effect and to what extent and for how much duration, all that would happen through text-based negotiations, Wadhawan added.