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TRIPS waiver should make improvement on existing flexibilities: SJM

SJM wrote a letter to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. “This has reference to a petition made by India and South Africa in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), under your able leadership in October last year, seeking exemption from TRIPS, so that vaccines and corona medicines in the world are available to the entire humanity on affordable basis,” SJM wrote.

SJM  pointed out that as WTO secretariat is engaging with EU, the US, South Africa, and India to find a solution to TRIPS waiver, however, it is unprecedented that the secretariat is having textual discussions at the Ministerial level, without the involvement of technical advisors.

“In any case, we understand that India is standing up to the pressure of the EU, the US and the WTO Secretariat. We call on you to continue the same, to ensure that any outcome of the discussions should result in an effective and useful outcome for access and should expand the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS Agreement,”SJM said.

SJM mentioned that scope of the TRIPS waiver decision should not only include vaccines but also therapeutics and diagnostics, the waiver outcome should go beyond the compulsory license (CL) and should include trade secret protection, which is very essential for the generic production of vaccines and Covid-19 monoclonal antibodies.

“It should cover both patented productions and products with pending patent applications,” SJM wrote.

Talking about the process of negotiations, SJM wrote, “India should ensure that the South African Minister shares the same view. India should not agree to any text until it has been fully vetted and endorsed by India’s technical experts.”

SJM suggested that any solution to the TRIPS waiver should make a substantial improvement on the existing flexibilities, including with respect to trade secrets, to provide material benefit to developing countries supporting the proposal of India & South Africa.

“India needs the support of other developing countries to maintain our bargaining power at the WTO. Therefore, we need to consider the sensitivities of other developing countries before accepting any solution on the TRIPS waiver,” SJM said.

SJM claims that a small group of WTO members deliberating on the TRIPS waiver, are discussing suggestions to limit the geographical scope of the implementation of the waiver - plans that seek to exclude India and China.

“It’s obvious that India will not accept any such proposal, however, we have to defeat these proposals,” SJM added.

Last year, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch had requested the WTO to relax the provisions of its TRIPS agreement for patent free access to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines and medicines.


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