Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has called upon the global community to ensure timely and equitable availability of vaccines and medicines for COVID-19, in sufficient quantities and affordable prices.
In his intervention at the virtual informal meeting of WTO Ministers held today, Mr Goyal said, India and South Africa have proposed Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS waiver to address the challenges that countries with limited manufacturing capacity will face, in accessing these medical supplies. He called upon all Members to support the proposal, in order to have a decision on it by 12th Ministerial Conference, if not earlier.
Mr Goyal said that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the inherent weaknesses and inequalities in the global economic and trading system. He said, the need of the hour is to take effective measures to address the immediate challenges, and also prepare a long-term roadmap on how to reform an ailing and imbalanced global trading system. The Minister said, India believes that every crisis presents big opportunities for new and innovative pathways to progress. He said that meaningful and equitable reform requires us to re-imagine the multilateral trading system and fix what has not worked in the last 25 years. Mr Goyal said, they are always ready to engage constructively with other WTO Members to protect human life and work towards restoring inclusive and sustainable global economic growth.
On the heightened challenges of food and livelihood security due to pandemic, the Minister suggested that an immediate response to the food security challenge would be to deliver an effective outcome on the mandated issue of a permanent solution for
Public Stockholding for food security purposes at 12th Ministerial Conference. Mr Goyal said that the pandemic has also highlighted the need for easier cross-border movement of health care professionals. He said, a multilateral initiative that provides for easier access to medical services under mode-4 needs to be launched immediately and we should aim to deliver this outcome by 12th Ministerial Conference.
On the issue of ongoing fisheries subsidy negotiations, the Minister stated that the negotiations should address the problem of industrial fishing by some nations that has led to a major depletion of the global fish stock. Mr Goyal said that members, who have provided and continue to provide large subsidies, must make the highest contributions in line with the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle. He said, we should not repeat the mistakes made during the Uruguay Round negotiations, that allowed unequal and trade-distorting entitlements for select members, while unfairly constraining the less developed member countries who did not have the capacity to support their farmers at that point of time.
Mr Goyal said that the mandate of both Sustainable Development Goals 14.6 and the 11th Ministerial Conference decision on fisheries, regarding appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing countries is clear and cannot be disregarded. He said that India will not accept any attempts to restrict the flexibilities and policy space that developing countries need to better integrate with the global trading system. The Minister emphasized the need to open more opportunities for the less developed and developing countries, so that global trade is fair and sustainable.
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