Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) did not reach a consensus to hold a meeting related to intellectual property obligations and the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is an offer by India to schedule a virtual ministerial meeting focused on the proposed exemption from some intellectual property obligations to combat the pandemic.
But India’s proposal did not win the support of other WTO members, as they expressed concerns about the virtual format and the lack of progress in the negotiations.
To address the case, the President of the General Council, Dacio Castillo (Honduras), called the January 10 meeting in response to India’s recent proposal to hold a virtual Ministerial Conference on the WTO’s response to the pandemic, including a proposed exemption from relevant intellectual property protections.
At the meeting, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged WTO members to redouble their efforts urgently, suggesting that with the necessary political will, members can in the space of the next few weeks reach multilateral commitments on intellectual property and other issues for the WTO to fully contribute to the global response to Covid-19 and future pandemics.
On December 23, 2021, India sent a letter to the President of the General Council requesting the holding of a virtual ministerial meeting on the subject of this Organization’s response to the pandemic, including the proposal to renounce certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. for matters related to vaccines, treatments and diagnoses of Covid-19.
On the same day, Castillo circulated the letter to all delegations, stating that he would “carry out consultations and convene an informal open-ended General Council meeting” on the subject during the week of January 10.
In his comments, Okonjo-Iweala called for urgent action towards a comprehensive WTO outcome on the response to the pandemic.
“More than two years have passed since the start of the pandemic. The emergence of the Omicron variant, which forced us to postpone our Twelfth Ministerial Conference, reminded us of the risks of allowing large sections of the world to remain unvaccinated,” she said.
“We at the WTO now have to urgently step forward to do our part to achieve a multilateral outcome on intellectual property and other issues to fully contribute to global efforts in the fight against Covid-19,” she added.
The meeting heard a variety of views on the proposed ministerial meeting, particularly on timing, coverage of issues and the need to further narrow the differences in Geneva before ministerial engagement.
Describing the meeting as “useful”, the Chairman of the General Council, Ambassador Castillo, said that he would continue to consult with members on the Indian proposal, underlining “the urgency and importance of reaching a meaningful result.”