Ambassador Pimchanok Pitfield of Thailand, Chair of the Council for TRIPS, expressed her gratitude for the contributions from over 20 speakers from a wide range of backgrounds, thanking them for their willingness to provide input into the Council's deliberations. She said that, despite the familiarity of arguments in this long-standing debate, the input from outside stakeholders had highlighted aspects, nuances and perspectives that were helpful for the Council's deliberations going forward.
The Chair highlighted that this was the first time the Council had organized a thematic session with outside speakers as part of its proceedings, and thanked members for agreeing to use this format for collecting views and information from outside the organization. Just like the recent WTO Public Forum, this was a more direct engagement with outside stakeholders, also championed by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and such a format could also be used by the Council for the consideration of other topics in the future.
Under paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement, adopted on 17 June 2022 at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), members agreed to make a decision within six months on whether to extend this Decision to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.
At a formal TRIPS Council meeting in December 2022, members recommended to the General Council to extend the deadline for such a decision. The General Council accepted this recommendation in December 2022 and resolved in March 2023 to keep the issue open for discussion while substantive discussions would continue in the TRIPS Council.
At the TRIPS Council's meeting on 14-15 June, members had agreed to hold an informal thematic session for external stakeholder input in order to gather facts and take stock of relevant COVID-19 related developments with the participation of international organizations, civil society, business representatives and academia.
The Chair said that the programme for the informal thematic session was developed on the basis of suggestions received from members and aimed to provide a geographically and organizationally balanced cross-section of stakeholders.
She thanked contributors for a rich and productive day and expressed her hope that the broad spectrum of expertise and views shared would be helpful for members — and the Council as a whole — to find common ground and to develop a constructive path forward.