Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday called the EU’s decision to not support an intellectual property rights waiver proposal at the World Trade Organisation to ease vaccine supplies globally and to
insulate themselves while other parts of the world are not safe, as a myopic one even as he came down heavily on global pharmaceutical companies for “counting their dollars” during the pandemic.
“That’s the choice they have to make- whether the profits of the pharmaceutical companies are more important than saving lives across the world including in their country,” Goyal said at the India Global Forum event.
He said “sadly” the European countries and many other developed nations are not supporting the proposal of India and South Africa in the WTO regarding temporary waiver of patent norms to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. The proposal has the support of above a hundred members.
Such a waiver could potentially lead to an increase in vaccine output and availability for developing countries and LDCs.
It is “very very” unfortunate that some countries still put profit over prudence, he said.
Stating that it is unfortunate that some European countries are not supporting the initiative and have preferred profit over prudence, he said in this globally connected world, it is nearly impossible howsoever much they (European countries) try to insulate their countries from the rest of the world.
“That’s a choice… a decision that have to make and what they believe is good for them and their country. I personally believe it’s extremely myopic of any country to believe that they’re insulated and remain safe even if other parts of the world do not,” he said.
Asking for the world to support each other, Goyal said: “Today is not the time even for pharma companies to be counting their dollars and green bucks”.
He said that sharing of technology in an organised manner will help promote good manufacturing, otherwise people would try to reverse engineering and “then you will have a bigger problem on your head of unauthorised vaccines, medicines and that is more dangerous for the world”.
“It really pains me to hear these kinds of arguments that it (TRIPS waiver) will impact innovation and invention. We have tonnes and tonnes of things to invent, we have a huge amount of profits to be made in the future. But we first have to get rid of this pandemic, get economies back in shape, otherwise people will lose jobs and lives,” Goyal added.
Further, he said that large parts of the world are asking to implement the Cowin app, which is used for conducting vaccination programmes here, because of its success.
India is happy to share free of charge, unlike few other countries which are even looking at profits while the world needs to be saved through collective efforts of the world, he added.
On free trade agreements, he said India has started dialogue with the EU on an FTA in goods, services, investment protection agreement and GI (geographical indication) pact.
“But given the nature of the EU, 27 odd countries, it will certainly be a much more long drawn affair. But we on our part are extremely keen to speed it up,” Goyal said.
Talking about India’s exports, the minister informed that the sector has recorded huge growth and during April-June quarter, “the exports from India are the highest ever, possibly in India’s history”.
News source- Economic Times