Hold talks to extend TRIPS waiver to Covid diagnostics: Piyush Goyal to G20

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday urged G20 member nations to commit to “timely” discussions on “important” decisions mandated at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) 12th ministerial conference on issues.

These included matters related to WTO reforms, including strengthening of the dispute settlement mechanism, as well extension of TRIPS waiver to cover the production and supply of Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics within the agreed timeframe of six months.

At the 12th ministerial meeting in June, WTO member nations agreed upon the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement that gives greater scope to diversify production of Covid-19 vaccines and to override the exclusive effect of patents through a targeted waiver over the next five years. It was also decided that within a timeframe of six months, starting June 17, member nations will have to decide on the inclusion of production and supply of Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics, which was proposed by India.

The minister also asked G20 nations to be conscious that the fisheries negotiations and a permanent solution to public stockholding and e-commerce moratorium, amongst other agendas at the WTO required their urgent attention and decisions.

The minister was delivering his opening statement at the G20 Trade, Investment and Industry Ministerial meeting, underway in Bali, Indonesia, since Wednesday.

Goyal said if multilateralism was imperilled, the world will not be left with many fora to promote dialogue and diplomacy. Therefore, free trade will suffer.

“India believes that multilateralism is the cornerstone for managing and facilitating global trade,” Goyal said.

At the G20 ministerial, India also called upon all member nations to show utmost flexibility and draw from the experience from the WTO MC12 in June, where significant progress to promote “equitable and fair trade” was achieved.

There was significant support to India’s position and many members expressed the desire to see outcomes, and aligned with India’s proposal, an official statement said.

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