THE EU, BRITAIN and Japan continued to voice doubts at the WTO today about a proposed intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 products such as vaccines, a Geneva trade official said.
Proposals to initiate text-based discussions on an IP waiver, rather than more general talks, gained traction at an informal meeting of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of IP Rights (TRIPS) council, the official said.
However, some member states “continued to express doubts about the convenience of starting negotiations and asked for more time” to analyse the proposal, the official said.
They included the European Union, plus Australia, Brazil, Britain, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Agreements at the WTO require the consensus backing of all 164 member states.
India and South Africa came forward with the original idea. They have submitted a revised proposal, which currently has the express support of 63 WTO members.
The trade official said differences continued on the question of whether, and to what extent, IP protection was holding up the goal of beating the pandemic, and about the use and potential improvement of existing flexibilities within the TRIPS terms.
Questions were also raised on the duration and termination of the proposed waiver, the official said.
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Pakistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia and Kenya were among the countries that expressed the need to start negotiations, the trade official said.
The TRIPS Council will hold an informal meeting on June 8-9 when members will stake out their positions further.