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India seeks Switzerland’s support for TRIPS waiver for easy access to Covid-19 vaccines



New Delhi: India has sought support from Switzerland for a proposal seeking waiver from obligations of countries to implement provisions of the global intellectual property rights agreement for easy and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The matter came up at a virtual meeting between commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, and Guy Parmelin, Vice-President of the Swiss Federal Council and Head, Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research.

India and South Africa have sought a temporary waiver of TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) obligations to ensure unimpeded and timely access to affordable medicines and medical products amid the ongoing pandemic.

The proposal, made at the World Trade Organization, seeks exemption from a clause that poses challenges for countries with limited manufacturing capacity in accessing medical supplies including diagnostic kits, vaccines, medicines, personal protective equipment and ventilators.

“Goyal sought support of Switzerland for the joint proposal of India and South Africa in WTO for TRIPS waiver, so as to facilitate affordable access of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments throughout the globe,” the commerce and industry ministry said in a release.

India and Africa have said it is important for WTO members to work together to ensure that IPRs such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and protection of undisclosed information do not create barriers to the timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines or to scaling-up of research, development, manufacturing and supply of medical products essential to combat Covid-19.

“Both the ministers reiterated the desire to move forward on the India-EFTA Trade & Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations,” the ministry said, adding that the two agreed on concrete next steps in this direction.

EFTA or European Free Trade Association is a bloc comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The two also discussed the India-Switzerland Bilateral Investment Treaty which is under negotiation

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