The head of the World Trade Organization has warned that intensified talks on the deregulation of Covid vaccines are “stuck” and that governments need to agree on a WTO cabinet meeting next week.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters Thursday: “If we have the feeling that there is nothing, then we all leave empty-handed.”
Progress could have been made in other areas including a partnership to reduce fishing subsidies, work on trade-offs to combat Covid and initiate negotiations to change the WTO alone, he said.
Last year India and South Africa came up with the idea of abandoning IP protection including patents, copyrights and trade secrets on all drugs used to treat Covid, especially vaccines. The governments of rich countries including the EU, UK and Switzerland have opposed such a move, right The US has supported the legal abolition without giving too much of what he would accept.
The EU last week offered a new idea to make it easier for governments to ignore vaccination requirements, but trade officials agree it is highly unlikely to close the gap between India and South Africa.
“We are stuck on the road,” said Okonjo-Iweala. “We have tried many things by chance to make the conversation work. At one point it seemed to be going very well. But again, it stuck. “
Okonjo-Iweala recently traveled to India to discuss Delhi’s concerns over a number of WTO issues including fishing, which will be discussed next week. India wants people not to be allowed to restrict fishing restrictions.
He also said that although the talks with Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, had been fruitful, he would not have won.
Officials from 164 WTO member states meet in Geneva next week for a regular cabinet meeting, which usually takes place every two years. The convention has been suspended since last year and the venue has moved from Kazakhstan to Switzerland due to the Covid epidemic.
While agents may be available on their own, the number of delegates has decreased to reduce the likelihood of Covid’s spread, reducing the likelihood of regular negotiations that have resulted in alliances in the past.
Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister and second World Bank official, became head of the WTO in March. He has impressed the ambassadors and ministers with his zealous preaching, as well as the strong cooperation in vaccination and distribution.
On Thursday, he said that his plans to convene meetings of pharmaceutical companies, health professionals, governments and human rights activists have contributed to the global response to Covid. “WTO activities are not limited to the removal of IP,” he said. ‘Once you get the steering wheel but you don’t have the power to make it, you can’t use it. If you have creative skills but you don’t have the expertise, you can’t use them. ”
The Biden Administration, despite much better WTO reports than Donald Trump officials, they have continued to block the council’s controversies by refusing to name nominees for its appeal. These and other WTO changes will be pushed to the next ministry after the next meeting.
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