Global Economy

India hopeful of early outcome on TRIPS waiver proposal at WTO

India is hopeful of an early outcome at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on its proposal seeking patent waivers on Covid-related medical products including vaccines, officials said.

New Delhi took up the issue with the WTO director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is on a three-day visit to India ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the WTO starting on November 30.

India and South Africa had last year proposed waiver of certain provisions of copyrights, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information in the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19. It is now sponsored by 64 WTO members.

Ahead of a key ministerial meeting next month, New Delhi also insisted on a fair and equitable rules-based system to curb harmful fisheries subsidies, especially the ones given by developed countries.

These issues came up in Okonjo-Iweala’s meeting with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday.

“We raised the TRIPS proposal and are hopeful of early results on that front,” said an official aware of the details.

“The talks were in continuation of the ongoing agenda. Earlier, India used to raise concerns related to itself but now we want implementable and monitorable targets for the developed countries,” the official said, adding that many countries look up to India to speak on their behalf.

Besides TRIPS waiver and special and differential treatment in fish subsidies, India wants a permanent solution for its public stockholding that will cover all products without onerous notification obligations, and special safeguard mechanism to protect poor farmers against import surges as outcomes in the upcoming ministerial.

The WTO DG will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday, the last day of her visit.

On Thursday, she met industry captains including those from Reliance Industries, Tata Steel and JK Tyre, among others.


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