“The meeting is being held to discuss the WTO response both to the current pandemic and future ones to ensure that multilateral trade rules, including the intellectual property system, support international efforts to combat health crises,” said an official.
New Delhi has asserted that any WTO response to pandemic without the waiver will not be “credible”.
India has pitched for a global pandemic response system that would map manufacturing capacities and demand of medicines and medical equipment and allow special visas or permits for healthcare professionals.
India has also suggested that the WTO consider an ‘escape clause’ for countries, relying on flexibilities in trade agreements, to avoid disputes while tackling the pandemic and any other in future.
It has also suggested that during the current Covid-19 pandemic, a pool of goods such as oxygen concentrators, essential medicines and oximeters, and services through temporary measures involving special permits for short duration supply of healthcare professionals for four to eight weeks, both physically or remotely, to address acute shortages could be created.
WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called for urgent action towards a comprehensive WTO outcome on pandemic response.
“Members will also make their statements on an agreement on harmful fisheries subsidies,” the official said.
In the second round of interventions, members have been invited to talk on mapping out future WTO work and objectives in respect of multilateral agriculture negotiations and reform of the WTO’s negotiating function, dispute settlement, and monitoring and deliberative functions.