COVID-19 RELIEF: DEVELOPED COUNTRIES MUST FOLLOW DMK FORMER MINISTER MR. MARAN’S MODEL WITH RESPECT TO THE URGENT WTO MINISTERAL CONFERENCE President Adv. Sanjai Gandhi. [1/15, 11:11] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: உலகம் முழுவதும் பரவும் கோவிட் நோய் கட்டுபடுத்த/இந்தியாவின் வர்த்தகம் மற்றும் தொழில்துறை அமைச்சகம்- தலைவர் தளபதி அவர்கள் தாங்கி நிற்கும் திமுக அளித்த’ அறிவு சிகரம்_ மறைந்த மாமேதை முரசொலி மாறனின்- மாடலை பயன்படுத்தலாம்; உலக வர்த்தக மாநாட்டை அவசரமாக கூட்டுக; [1/15, 11:12] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: P. Sanjai Gandhi IPR Attorney, & Advocate ‘ High court of Madras

COVID-19 RELIEF: DEVELOPED COUNTRIES MUST FOLLOW DMK FORMER MINISTER MR. MARAN’S
MODEL WITH RESPECT TO THE URGENT WTO
MINISTERAL CONFERENCE

President Adv. Sanjai Gandhi
New No.58, Old No.145A, Dr. Besant Road, Ice House, Triplicane, Chennai,
Tamil Nadu 600005
Email: iprattorneyassociation@yahoo.com
Phone: 9840622474

The IP Attorney Association formally recommends to the Principal Secretary of the Government of India and the Ministry of Commerce Industries that, in light of India’s request to the WTO to hold a series of emergency meetings to further discuss the multilateral COVID package, the Government approach other critical developing nations with the patent waiver proposal and attempt to arrive at a common application/request to the WTO. This will ensure that developing nations maximise their bargaining power and are adequately represented at the WTO and during the TRIPS negotiations throughout the course of the emergency meetings, beginning on the 10th of January. Such a collective application would make it easier to obtain the support of the US and the EU, and a multilateral COVID response that benefits developing nations would help curb the spread of COVID-19; something that is desperately needed at this time.

Respected Sir,
In view of the COVID 19 crisis, India and South Africa jointly forwarded a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October 2020, seeking a temporary waiver on patent rights on Covid-related products like vaccinations, diagnostic kits, medical masks and other personal protective equipment. This was done to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccinations and medication that would help in curbing the spread of COVID 19 in developing countries. This proposal received the support of over 120 countries. On the 5th of May following an amendment to the proposal, United States announced its support for the proposal. However, this was restricted to vaccinations only and did not mention other technologies that were required for treatment and containment of COVID 19. With the COVID cases starting to peak again, it is imperative that all the member states support the proposal to cover not just the vaccinations but also diagnostics, therapeutics and other health technologies.

Recently, India requested a series of emergency meetings to be held throughout January and the coming months to further discuss the COVID response package. The first was held on the 10th of January, where Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reiterated the need for WTO members to immediately increase their efforts to reach a multilateral compromise on intellectual property and other concerns about the COVID response package. While the meeting was described as “useful” by General Council Chair Ambassador Castillo, it was agreed that consultations would continue to be held throughout the coming weeks, meaning that it is imperative now more than ever that India, alongside other developing nations, come up with a persuasive, collective application to the WTO to ensure that its interests are adequately represented.
According to Dr. Christos Christou, MSF International President, “The waiver proposal offers all governments opportunities to take action for better collaboration in development, production and supply of COVID medical tools without being restricted by private industry’s interests and actions, and crucially would give governments all available tools to ensure global access.” There is a growing need for affordable and effective vaccinations and such a temporary

waiver would ensure better access to healthcare for the developing countries. Furthermore, if the waiver was adopted it would provide countries with the policy space to address IP barriers to increase collaboration in research, development, manufacturing, scaling up and supply of COVID related technologies. Despite the evident benefits of the patent waiver, a small group of high-income countries such as UK and Switzerland are still in opposition of the proposal. Most of these countries have already secured sufficient vaccination that is required to vaccinate their entire population. “Countries must stop obstructing and show the leadership required to deliver on the ‘global solidarity’ they have so often declared during this pandemic,” said Dr Christou. “It’s time to champion access to medical tools for everyone, wherever they live.”

This high-income group of countries also happens to be powerful in a way that the other members of the G-20, particularly developing nations, have been outspoken in their support of the waiver. The representatives of both developing and smaller, developed nations have reiterated the importance of such a waiver at multiple occasions. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said that while countries were able to receive medical supplies because of solidarity, the global community has not followed similar principles in ensuring equitable access to vaccines. He urgently called for a temporary waiver of some provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, allowing low-income countries to produce vaccines. President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, said that multilateralism, which has provided peace, stability, and prosperity during the postwar period, has been gradually eroding in recent years. Pandemics, climate change, biodiversity loss, inequality, and terrorism are all issues that need to be addressed. He drew attention to the drastic disparities in vaccine access between high- and low-income countries, describing them as “morally unacceptable”, and warning that fewer vaccinations will mean more deaths. Further, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, indicated that the exceptional pandemic catastrophe can only be overcome via renewed cooperation and international solidarity, rather than by isolated, unilateral action. Vaccines must be seen as a global public good, he said, adding that Mexico will present to the G20 a proposal that the international community recognize WHO-certified vaccines without conditions.

With such kind of support from the other developing countries, it is preferable that a collective application for the patent waiver is made by all such nations, instead of India and South Africa individually proposing the waiver individually. Such a common application would make it easier to obtain the waiver with influential countries like the US and the EU as coapplicants. This backing would have more backbone to push forward the temporary waiver.

During a pandemic, every country should be able to produce its own vaccines. The effort to temporarily waive intellectual property (IP) protection on coronavirus vaccinations is based on this idea. The purpose is to lower the hurdles to developing their own vaccines, especially for low-income countries. This endeavour should have a higher probability of success.

In fact, the current circumstances harken back to the events of the Doha Ministerial Conference, held in 2001. The Doha Declaration was vehemently opposed by the representatives of numerous developing nations, with Murasoli Maran, the former Minster of Commerce and Industry, leading the charge. The Doha Declaration’s approach to agriculture, much like the current developed world’s approach to COVID alleviation, championed the concerns of the temperate zone and is capital-intensive. Mr. Maran managed to build a coalition consisting of developing nations, with the aim of encouraging opposition against the Declaration’s stand on agricultural issues. With this concerted effort, the interests of developing nations with respect to fundamental areas were protected. The revised Declaration, after an extended negotiating period of two years, allowed India to retain its right to quantitative restrictions on agricultural imports and emphasises the importance of differential treatment for developing nations in accordance with their needs.

For the first time, the inequitable dynamic persisting between the developed and developing world was highlighted. “Any system which in the last-minute forces many developing countries to accept texts in areas of crucial importance to them cannot be a fair system,” Mr.
Maran said and suggested that the WTO Membership should have “serious introspection about the fairness of the preparatory process” for Ministerial Conferences. Just as in Doha, following in Mr. Maran’s footsteps, we believe that the Ministry for Commerce and Industries must attempt to approach other developing nations and ensure that consensus is reached with respect to COVID relief. This will allow for developing nations to maximise their bargaining power when presenting to the WTO General Council this month. This coordinated strategy will build support for India’s resolution regarding the COVID package, and will help ensure the protection of developing nations as a collective.

In light of the abovesaid circumstances, we urge the Government to approach other developing nations with the proposal and arrive at a common application/request to the WTO throughout the series of emergency general council WTO meetings requested by India to be held throughout the month of January. The first meeting, held on the 10th as aforementioned, was unsuccessful, with the WTO members failing to reach a multilateral agreement Mr.
Maran’s approach at the Doha Round was successful primarily because of his emphasis on international collaboration, and this model must be applied to this current situation in order to reach a successful agreement. Amidst the life- threatening situation created by COVID 19, it is imperative that the countries collectively take an initiative to curb the spread of COVID19, prioritizing the interest of humanity at large over monetary gains. This matter is of top priority, and we request the government to do the needful.

Thanking
You,
Regards,
Adv. Sanjai Gandhi
President of the Intellectual Property Rights Attorney Association

[1/15, 11:11] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: உலகம் முழுவதும் பரவும் கோவிட் நோய் கட்டுபடுத்த/இந்தியாவின் வர்த்தகம் மற்றும் தொழில்துறை அமைச்சகம்- தலைவர் தளபதி அவர்கள் தாங்கி நிற்கும் திமுக அளித்த’ அறிவு சிகரம்_ மறைந்த மாமேதை முரசொலி மாறனின்- மாடலை பயன்படுத்தலாம்;

உலக வர்த்தக மாநாட்டை அவசரமாக கூட்டுக;
[1/15, 11:12] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: P. Sanjai Gandhi
IPR Attorney, & Advocate ‘ High court of Madras

[1/15, 11:11] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: உலகம் முழுவதும் பரவும் கோவிட் நோய் கட்டுபடுத்த/இந்தியாவின் வர்த்தகம் மற்றும் தொழில்துறை அமைச்சகம்- தலைவர் தளபதி அவர்கள் தாங்கி நிற்கும் திமுக அளித்த’ அறிவு சிகரம்_ மறைந்த மாமேதை முரசொலி மாறனின்- மாடலை பயன்படுத்தலாம்;

உலக வர்த்தக மாநாட்டை அவசரமாக கூட்டுக;
[1/15, 11:12] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: P. Sanjai Gandhi
IPR Attorney, & Advocate ‘ High court of Madras

[1/15, 11:11] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: உலகம் முழுவதும் பரவும் கோவிட் நோய் கட்டுபடுத்த/இந்தியாவின் வர்த்தகம் மற்றும் தொழில்துறை அமைச்சகம்- தலைவர் தளபதி அவர்கள் தாங்கி நிற்கும் திமுக அளித்த’ அறிவு சிகரம்_ மறைந்த மாமேதை முரசொலி மாறனின்- மாடலை பயன்படுத்தலாம்;

உலக வர்த்தக மாநாட்டை அவசரமாக கூட்டுக;
[1/15, 11:12] Sanjai Gandhi Dmk Advt: P. Sanjai Gandhi
IPR Attorney, & Advocate ‘ High court of Madras

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