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TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Oct20/06)
14 October 2020
Third World Network


Attempts to undermine talks on TRIPS waiver to combat COVID-19?
Published in SUNS #9210 dated 14 October 2020

Washington DC, 13 Oct (D. Ravi Kanth) – The chair of the Doha Rules negotiating group informed members on 12 October that he will convene meetings on 15 and 16 October, despite a clash with the scheduled WTO TRIPS Council meeting on the same days, in what appears to be a deliberate move to undermine the discussion on the TRIPS waiver for combating the COVID-19 pandemic, said people familiar with the development.

The TRIPS Council meeting was scheduled more than 15 days ago as per the calendar of meetings issued by the WTO Secretariat.

Important items concerning the TRIPS Agreement, particularly the waiver sought by India and South Africa from implementing the TRIPS provisions concerning copyrights, industrial designs, patents, and protection of industrial secrets, are listed for discussion.

South Africa had on 9 October requested the chair of the Doha Rules negotiating body, Ambassador Santiago Wills from Colombia, on not convening any meetings on 15-16 October because of the TRIPS Council meeting that was scheduled more than 15 days ago.

In his email sent to members on 12 October, Ambassador Wills said that “as I noted at our meeting of the NGR [Negotiating Group on Rules] at the Head of Delegation level held last Friday afternoon, 9 October, we will continue discussing the remaining issues we did not cover during last week’s cluster of meetings and continue work to advance our negotiations.”

“Therefore, your delegation is invited to:

* an informal open-ended meeting of the NGR on Thursday morning 15 October between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM in CR to discuss Article 3.4 and footnote 7 to that Article in the draft consolidated document (RD/TN/RL/126);

* informal consultations open to all interested delegations on Friday morning 16 October between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM in Room W to discuss how artisanal fishing and government-to-government access agreements might be addressed in the draft document; and

* an informal open-ended meeting on Friday afternoon 16 October between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM in Room W to continue the discussion on Article 3.3 on due process in IUU determinations and provide an opportunity for the delegation of Brazil to introduce its revised proposal in document RD/TN/RL/124/Rev.1.”

At the informal Heads of Delegation (HoD) meeting of the Doha Rules negotiating group on 9 October, South Africa had said, “we have concerns with the dates for the NGR Plenary sessions that you have outlined as they clash with key meetings such as TRIPS Council which will stretch the capacity of small delegations and puts us in a difficult situation of choosing between key and critical meetings that affect our interests.”

However, Ambassador Wills appears to have ignored the concerns and has proceeded to convene the meetings in what appears to be an attempt to undermine the TRIPS Council meeting, said people familiar with the development.

 


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