Community organisations call on Australian government to support stronger waiver on COVID19 monopolies

23 March, 2022: Together with thirteen allied organisations, AFTINET has called on the Minister for Trade, Dan Tehan, to support a stronger waiver on COVID19 monopolies at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

In a letter sent to the Minister today, we argue that a leaked document reported to be be a compromise on  TRIPS waiver negotiated between the US, EU, India and South Africa does not go far enough. In fact the document is only a draft which has not been publicly supported by India and South Africa, who are the original sponsors of the  stronger waiver.:

“In our view the document is a small step forward, in the sense that it acknowledges that some WTO patent rules need to change. However we do not believe it will address the inequity resulting in only 4% of people in low-income countries having had two vaccine doses, and even less access to treatments and tests.”

The key failings of the current compromise proposal are that:

  • It is limited to vaccines, not tests and treatments
  • It only includes patents, not other forms of intellectual property such as trade secrets, data protection, manufacturing know-how, quality control protocols, equipment specifications and operating instructions
  • It excludes many countries, including potentially a large number of developing countries

As the compromise proposal is not yet been tabled, debated or  agreed by the WTO, there is still time to achieve a stronger outcome.

In our letter, we recommended a set of practical improvements that would secure a stronger waiver on COVID19 monopolies, including that the waiver apply to all products needed to prevent, treat, and contain COVID-19, that the waiver cover all forms of intellectual property, and that all WTO member countries can use the waiver.

The letter was endorsed by: ActionAid Australia, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), Amnesty International Australia, Friends of the Earth Australia, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Australia, Oxfam Australia, Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Public Services International (PSI), The Salvation Army, St Columban Mission Centre, Peace Ecology and Justice Office, Sum of Us, and the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

  • To read the full letter, click here.