Civil society organisations urge Australia to oppose ineffective TRIPS proposal
May 9, 2022: AFTINET has joined with public health, human rights, and labour rights campaigners to call on Trade Minister Dan Tehan to oppose the recent draft proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) TRIPS Council meeting on May 6.
The more recent proposal that has been circulated at the request of the WTO’s Director General, Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is a far cry from the original TRIPS waiver proposed back in 2020 by India and South Africa, and supported by over 100 member states, including Australia, to enable more equitable access to COVID vaccines and medicines
In a letter addressed to Trade Minister Dan Tehan, advocates argue that the Director General’s proposal is limited to vaccines only and excludes vitally needed medicines and diagnostic tests for at least six months. Moreover, it is restricted to only “eligible countries”, which leaves out key populations, and is actually more restrictive than the current provisions of the TRIPS agreement.
Instead of supporting the Director General’s proposal, the Australian government must engage with and support a much more comprehensive and inclusive agreement that would meaningfully allow the world to overcome a disease that has killed millions of people and created the gravest public health crisis of our time.
Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), said:
“The Australian Government should oppose this weak proposal because it would continue to place the interests of pharmaceutical companies above peoples’ lives. It will not enable increased access for COVID vaccines and treatments that low-income countries desperately need. Australia should instead support a comprehensive waiver that will actually save lives.”