Intellectual Property Waiver text fails to get full support at first WTO meeting – POLITICO

World Trade Organization countries on Friday began discussions on a proposal for a waiver of intellectual property rights related to coronavirus vaccines, with the text drawing a mixed and cautious response.

The proposal emerged from discussions between the EU, US, India and South Africa and was circulated to broader WTO membership by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala earlier in the week after being leaked earlier in March. However, in statements to the TRIPS Council on Friday, South Africa, the EU and India held their cards close and neither party took full responsibility for the text.

South Africa told countries it hoped circulation of the document would mean text-based negotiations would begin, according to a Geneva-based trade official. Meanwhile, India said it was committed to working constructively with members to reach a meaningful outcome.

The EU, which publicly backed the proposal after it was first leaked, said the text offered the most promising route to a meaningful outcome. The US was less effusive, welcoming the Director-General’s role in conveying the text to members, but said it is currently engaged in domestic consultations and looks forward to finding areas of convergence.

Outside the so-called quad, China said it favored using the text as a basis for further discussion, but declined to include language that would exclude countries that exported more than 10 percent of the world’s COVID-19 exports in 2021. China said a more positive response would be if countries voluntarily opted out of the exemption.

More generally, the proposal has met with calls for tweaks and some concerns that it does not take into account the importance of treatments and diagnoses. Countries are under pressure to act quickly as they have just five weeks until the June Ministerial. Intellectual Property Waiver text fails to get full support at first WTO meeting – POLITICO

Fry Electronics Team

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