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Sitharaman meets top WTO official in US amidst India’s push for IPR waiver on Covid-19 vaccines


WASHINGTON: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday met the director general of WTO Ngozi Okonjo Iweala here in the US amidst India’s proposal for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines and medicines worldwide. The meeting between Sitharaman and Iweala took place on the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF annual meetings. “Union Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman interacts with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala @NOIweala, Director General @WTO on the sidelines of @[email protected] Annual Meetings 2021 in Washington D.C., today,” the Ministry of Finance said on Twitter. The meeting assumes significance as India along with South Africa has been pushing for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines and medicines globally. India in June suggested to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to begin text-based negotiations on the temporary TRIPs waiver proposal to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPs Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19. In May this year, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa and Indonesia. The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPs came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on Intellectual Property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.


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