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We need true vaccine internationalism: Indian Ambassador Brajendra Navnit to WTO

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New Delhi, Feb 26: There is a need for a true "vaccine internationalism" in the current scenario and waiver of certain intellectual property obligations is an effective and pragmatic way to achieve it, according to Brajendra Navnit, Indian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO.

We need true vaccine internationalism: Indian Ambassador Brajendra Navnit to WTO

In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO (World Trade Organization) members on the implementation, application and enforcement of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.

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He said an outcome on this proposal will not only help in saving valuable human lives but will also give a comforting signal to bring back consumers'' confidence, leading to acceleration in the recovery of global trade and world GDP (gross domestic product).

"The proposal for a temporary waiver from the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement is first on our priority list.

"We need true vaccine internationalism and the waiver is an effective and pragmatic way to achieve it," he said on February 25 during an informal TNC (trade negotiations committee) and HoDs (heads of delegations) meetings in Geneva.

He added that all sectors of the economy are equally important for growth, and interest of few companies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars should not come in the way of restoring trillions of dollars of world output and saving hundreds of thousands of human lives.

"Imposition of lockdown does not mean that members have given up on the principle of right to life or right to freedom of movement.

"In a similar manner, temporary waiver of certain provision of TRIPS agreement by following due process does not mean that the members have given up on the principle of intellectual property rights," he added.

Many WTO members, including least developed countries and African nations, are supporting this proposal. Developed countries are opposing it.

Further, the Ambassador said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for ensuring easier cross-border movement of health care professionals.

"Members who could have been able to mobilise a greater number of such professionals to save lives were not able to do so due to restrictive trade practices in the services sector.

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    "We must start working on having a multilateral initiative in this respect for an outcome in MC-12 (12th ministerial conference- highest decision making body of the WTO)," he said.

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