Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Statement by Shri Piyush Goyal during the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference at the meeting with co-sponsors of TRIPS Waiver

Posted On: 14 JUN 2022 10:44PM by PIB Delhi

Following is the text of the Statement made by Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal during the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Geneva at the meeting with co-sponsors of TRIPS Waiver today:

“We have been engaging with the developed world to try and find solutions. I must commend H.E. Ms. Xolelwa, Ambassador of South Africa for her wonderful leadership. I have been trying to get a sense of where this is heading, both in the various quadrilateral meetings, in my bilaterals with various ministers and governments, and also in the green room. I have a few disturbing things to share with you, which I think is important for us to be on the same page before we take a final decision. 

First of all, I do not think it matters very much whether item 1 and 2 get finalized or not. My own sense is whatever language we want, gradually, we will get in item 1 and 2 here, because they are very keen to show to the world and civil society, that we have pain in our heart for the developing countries, we care for Africa, Less Developed Countries and the developing world, and they want to clear their chest of this allegation that the developed world is insensitive and inhuman to the concerns of the poor and the vulnerable. 

My own sense right now with the number of meetings that are being held and with the number of green room engagements, is that the effort they are putting in, is more to showcase to the world that ‘Oh! we found a wonderful solution, we agreed with 80 countries or more to give a TRIPS waiver’. Now the common man does not understand that this is nothing near a TRIPS waiver, they do not understand that this is a little elevation from compulsory licensing. 

But, the way the discussion was going on, the nitpicking is something that my colleague, the Ambassador from Egypt will also share because he was also in the room and at the receiving end of several attacks on him for having raised his voice. This very clearly shows that the effort there is to somehow take the burden or the obligation off their chest and get anything passed, but the nitpicking they are doing reflects their insincerity. The fact that my own feeling is, not a single factory, not one, will ever come up with the agreement that we are finally trying to negotiate and which may get approved. 

The kind of fights over small commas, full stops, one word here or there seems to suggest that this will continue through the 5 years. If anybody was to try and take the benefit of this agreement, he/she will get frustrated and not a single plant to manufacture vaccines will come up with this.

Second, with great difficulty we got the period of 5 years. But, we all know that by the time we get an investor, get funds raised, draw plans, get equipment and set up a plant, it will probably take 2.5-3 years to do that. After that, you will start producing and within 2 years, you will have to bring down your exports to the normal compulsory license level and your capacity will remain idle. Today, in India, we have vaccines which are expiring, we have the capacity of vaccines which is idling and therefore, investors will not be easy to come by for this.

Our hope and desire was that this will be the beginning and in 6 months they will decide over the therapeutics and the diagnostics. I am sorry to share with you that in some bilaterals that I have had with the developed world and some of the countries who are opposing this, in a way, they have almost clearly hinted and indicated that IP rights are extremely important. We are flowing with the wind only because of the international pressure but on diagnostics and therapeutics there is no way we are going to yield.

Their expectation is very similar to what is written here that COVID-19 is increasingly being well managed and their hope is that issue will lose relevance. Their hope is to unburden their chest of any guilt today, show the world that we have been so magnanimous today, kick the can down the road for therapeutics and diagnostics which are really now essential. 

Vaccine story is almost over and even there, they have charged an arm and a leg to many of our countries. Where a vaccine in India gets produced for a $1.5, many parts of the world are paying $38 - $40 plus. Some of you have received donations, for valuing the vaccine at $38 or $40 and making it out to be such a big favor to you. So, my own sense is that what we are getting is completely half baked and it will not allow us to make any vaccines. They have no intentions of allowing therapeutic and diagnostics and if at all they try to say that we are the cause for its collapse, I think we should unanimously speak to the world and tell them that no, ideally we want a holistic solution including therapeutic and diagnostics.

Vaccines have already lost relevance, 2 years they spent without giving a solution and it is too late, not even a situation where you can say better late than never.It is just too late.  There is no demand for vaccines anymore. So rather, let us pitch for the final decision, collective and holistic decision and not get conned into accepting a sub-optimal stage 1, knowing full well that the stage 2 will never happen.”



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