WTO members applaud the Quad document as a foundation for text-based pandemic IP response negotiations


WTO members agreed on May 10 at a General Council meeting that the outcome document from the informal process with the Quad (European Union, India, South Africa, and the United States) opens the door to text-based talks on an intellectual property response to COVID-19. Members praised the proposal as a constructive step forward and expressed gratitude to Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Deputy Director-General Anabel González, as well as the Quad’s four members, for their work in resolving this long-standing issue.

Article Summary

Following a year of deadlock in the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), DG Okonjo-Iweala forwarded the text to TRIPS Council Chair Ambassador Lansana Gberie (Sierra Leone), who shared it with all delegations at a formal meeting on the TRIPS Council of 6 May.

The Quad adopted a problem-solving approach in their discussions, which were facilitated by DG Okonjo-Iweala and worked on with Deputy Director-General Anabel González, to identify practical ways to clarify, streamline, and simplify how governments can override patent rights, under certain conditions, to enable diversification of COVID-19 vaccine production.

While many delegations agreed that the plan provides a good foundation for further debate and potentially lead to a long-awaited and urgently needed outcome, many acknowledged they required more time to evaluate the paper internally before engaging in substantial negotiations. Some members stated that more discussion is needed to analyse specific issues, such as whether members are qualified for the proposed proposal.

The chair of the General Council, Ambassador Didier Chambovey (Switzerland), also encouraged all delegations to remain positively engaged and adopt a pragmatic and constructive attitude in discussions on the draft outcome text.

Source: WTO


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