Piyush Goyal calls for redoubling efforts at WTO to get patent waiver for Covid diagnostics, therapeutics
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday pitched for increasing efforts at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for getting patent waivers for diagnostics and therapeutics used to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
In June last year, members of the WTO agreed to grant a temporary patent waiver for the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines for five years. It was agreed to start talks on including therapeutics and diagnostics, as proposed by India and South Africa, under the purview of this waiver after six months. Goyal also said that there is a need for de-politicization of the global supply of essential medicines.
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At the WTO ministerial conference held in Geneva in June 2022, India, South Africa, and other developing countries worked together to obtain the TRIPS (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver that will help provide equitable and affordable access to vaccines across the world, he said. “We shall redouble our efforts at the WTO to get the TRIPS waiver extended to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics,” the minister said at Voice of Global South Summit – Session of Commerce/Trade Ministers on ‘Developing Synergies in the South: Trade, Technology, Tourism, Resources’.
The ‘global South’ largely refers to developing countries, especially those in Asia, Africa and South America. “We need to forge new partnerships and mechanisms so that the voice of the Global South is reflected on the decision-making table,” he added. On ways to strengthen trade ties, the minister said India is open to entering into preferential trade agreements with interested countries in the South for tapping the significant trade potential.
The global economic recovery is fragile and weak and the growth rate of global trade has slowed down, he said adding a sustainable recovery, in this scenario, is possible only if “all of us” work together. The developing countries were “severely” affected due to supply chain disruption during the pandemic, including severe shortages of food and essential medical products. “The pandemic has shown that we need to work together to build resilient supply chains,” Goyal said.
The countries of the Global South are now contributing more than half of the world’s growth. The South-South trade has soared over the years to hit USD 5.3 trillion in 2021. “We, in the global South, can work together to exchange best practices in models of connectivity that we employ in our countries,” the minister said adding “sharing and use of technology for the development of all of our countries needs to be prioritised”. Tourism, he said, is another area having a multiplier impact on socio-economic growth.
Countries of the global South can work together for promoting tourism among each other, the minister said. Further, the minister said that natural resources, like minerals, critical rare-earth elements, oil and natural gas are required for sustainable development and many countries of the South have huge deposits of these resources. “We should work closely to use such resources for the benefit of the South. We should also be wary of monopolization of supply of certain minerals, leading to high prices of these critical inputs and making our energy transition more difficult,” Goyal said.
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