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Vaccine IP waiver: Rules for everyone, Commerce Secy on easing Covaxin rights

The US has recently announced its support for waiving IP rights for Covid -19 vaccines, an issue raised in a proposal by India and South Africa, which also called for a waiver of IP rights on Covid-related interventions, including diagnostics and treatments.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
May 15, 2021 1:09:19 am
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on Friday that he had discussed India and the US working together on trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property rights waiver with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

The government is hopeful of a quick decision on the waiver of Intellectual Property (IP) protection for Covid-19 vaccines and treatment, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said on Friday. The US has recently announced its support for waiving IP rights for Covid -19 vaccines, an issue raised in a proposal by India and South Africa, which also called for a waiver of IP rights on Covid-related interventions, including diagnostics and treatments.

“The US has recently joined the group of countries which are supporting the waiver. We are hopeful that in an early timeframe some decision will be reached in the WTO,” said Wadhawan, adding a decision on a waiver of IP rights on vaccines would also apply to Bharat Biotech’s Covid vaccine — Covaxin. Experts have called on India to lead by example by relaxing IP rights on Covaxin, which has been jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

“Those rules (on waiver of IP protection), whenever they come into place will apply to everyone,” said Wadhawan on the potential waiver of IP rights for Covaxin.

Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on Friday that he had discussed India and the US working together on trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property rights waiver with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

On trade

Wadhawan said that major logistical issues faced by exporters due to Covid-19 had largely been resolved and that exports were witnessing a broad-based recovery. “(There were) problems in terms of containers and problems in terms of adequate availability of shipping services but through concerted efforts we have resolved those issues, “ said Wadhawan.

“The performance, so far, indicates very good prospects and we feel that we can reach $400 billion,” Wadhawan said. Overall exports (merchandise and services) in April rose to $51.8 billion, up 93 per cent from April 2020, according to government data.

A rise in imports to $58.7 billion, up 122 per cent from April 2020, also pushed up India’s trade deficit to $6.9 billion, compared to $380 million in the year-ago period when large parts of the country were under a strict lockdown.

The latest data for services sector released by the RBI is for March 2021. April data is estimates, which may undergo revision.

April exports at $30.6 billion

New Delhi: Merchandise exports surged a record 196 per cent year-on-year in April, driven mainly by a favourable base, as the country had witnessed a Covid-induced lockdown throughout April last year.

Exports in April stood at $30.6 billion, up almost 18 per cent from the same month in 2019.

According to the latest official data released on Friday, imports, too, grew 167 per cent to $45.7 billion in April, indicating improvement in domestic demand. Interestingly, gold imports surged to as much as $6.2 billion in April from a mere $2.8 million a year earlier. ENS

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