Negotiators in Geneva finalised their work on June 10, 2022, regarding two draft texts setting out a WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including an intellectual property (IP) response. The two texts will now be sent to trade ministers attending the organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) for review and possible approval.
The draft text on the WTO response to the pandemic sets out a series of trade-related pledges and objectives in order to support increased resilience to COVID-19 and future pandemics. These include general as well as specific provisions relating to trade facilitation, regulatory cooperation, intellectual property, services, food security and aspects of future work.
Reporting to an informal meeting of WTO members in his capacity as the facilitator on the WTO’s response to the pandemic, Ambassador Dacio Castillo of Honduras commended delegations for their efforts, and in particular their flexibility and self-restraint, which made it possible for WTO members to reach this point.
“Through the hard work and substantive contributions of delegations, in just a matter of three weeks, we have transformed the merged text of various proposals to a fully formed document for ministerial consideration at MC12,” Ambassador Castillo declared.
At an informal meeting of the Council on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), WTO members agreed to wrap up the negotiations for an intellectual property (IP) response to the pandemic based on the outcome document circulated to members on May 3, 2022.
“What you have before you now is a text that will be submitted to ministers,” TRIPS Council chair Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone told members. “We have come to the brink of our endurance, intelligence and creativity and we will give our ministers a chance to also take a shot, the final shot.”
Over the past few weeks, the chair continued text-based negotiations with delegations and group coordinators in various configurations. Intense work was done through textual proposals and suggestions collected since the beginning of the negotiations and in assessing which language attracted consensus in order to be included as part of the outcome document.
“It has been a very difficult process, very difficult,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. “I know that for all of you it has been a tough time but we have done the best we can for now.”
More information on MC12 is available here.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.