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SJM urges WTO to protect interests of developing nations

The draft proposal on COVID-19 tools to be taken up at the WTO ministerial conference is not close to the real TRIPS waiver. This could set a dangerous precedent for access to medicines, the experts have said.

Swadesh Jagran Manch (SJM), said that India and other developing countries should reject the draft as it does not address concerns. The TRIPS waiver exercise exposes the double speak of the developed countries he also said.

In a letter to the Director General of WTO, the Swadesh Jagran Manch said that, humanity has gone through a worst tragedy in the past two years, and people in different parts of the world are still struggling for equitable access to diagnostics, medicines, vaccine and other treatments. You will appreciate that main culprit for the same is TRIPS Agreement made in the beginning of WTO at Marrakesh. Exceptions permitted in the TRIPS Agreement on the issue of public health were ineffective as they were structured with lots of conditions which were either difficult to comply with or were impractical. Whatever small was achieved in Doha Declaration as TRIPS flexibilities has been made ineffective by developed countries, especiallyUSA by forcing developing countries as well as the least developed countries to incorporate more restrictive conditions known as TRIPS Plus and Data Exclusivity in FTAs with them. India, Africa Group and other supporting countries proposed a TRIPS waiver for vaccine, medicines and consumables for treatment of COVID-19 which was initially opposed totally by the developed countries including USA, EU and Japan later on atleast agreed to text based negotiations, the SJM also said. However, the text circulated is far from useful for the purpose enshrined in India-South Africa proposal of TRIPS waiver. It is unfortunate that the proposal on table is limited to TRIPS waiver for vaccine only and that too, limited to import and exports of the vaccine and that also with technicalities purposely designed to deny the implementation of TRIPS waiver even for vaccines. We fail to understand why the text in circulation puts so many conditionalities.

Proposal to destroy the vaccines produced on expiry of term of waiver is a cruel joke on humanity. We call upon you to make use of your good offices to ensure TRIPS waiver extended to medicines, therapeutics, diagnostic, disposables and all types of equipments along with vaccines used in the treatment of COVID-19. In a blog post, Ashwani Mahajan writes, “in short the decision is not offering anything new but repackaging of Article 31 (bis) of the TRIPS Agreement, which has proven ineffective and unusable. India should call a spade and reject the adoption of the decision text. Adoption of this text undermines the need of the hour and conveys a message that legitimate needs of developing countries can be ignored for the profit of the transnational corporations. Negotiators from India and other developing countries should ask this question from themselves, do they gain anything from present proposed TRIPS waiver decision?


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