12 Republican Lawmakers urge not to support India at WTO

Image source - The Tribune

12 Republican Lawmakers urged the Biden administration to not support a proposal by India and South Africa.

To the World Trade Organisation to temporarily waive some Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, in a letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, 12 influential Congressional representatives said, "If the US gives up intellectual property rights, it will harm innovation and production, and result in fewer people getting vaccinated, the 12 influential."

As per the information, The letter is in response to the proposal by 60 developing countries, led by India and South Africa.

The letter said, "The United States should continue to oppose the request by India, South Africa, and other nations to waive certain portions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO)."

Spearheaded by Congressmen Jim Jordan and Darrell Issa, the lawmakers said, "the requested waiver is extraordinarily broad and unnecessary to accomplish the goal of giving as many people as possible access to vaccines and treatment for COVID-19."

They claimed, "that Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed President Joe Biden to support the waiver during a phone call in early May."

Other signatories to the letter are Steve Chabot, Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Mike Johnson, Tom Tiffany, Thomas Massie, Dan Bishop, Michelle Fischbach, Scott Fitzgerald, and Cliff Bentz.

The letter said, "The justification for the waiver rests on an incorrect assumption that IP rights are a significant bottleneck to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments."

It added, "The waiver's sponsors have presented no convincing evidence to support this assertion. Instead, the sponsors mainly just point out that relevant IP rights exist and speculate that those rights could block access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments - not that IP rights have actually blocked or significantly hindered their availability."

The letter said, " If any, the examples of IP 'disputes' cited by the waiver sponsors generally show that IP rights have not prevented the involved parties from supplying vaccines and other medicines."

The Republican Congressmen said, "Respect for intellectual property rights has been a cornerstone of the US trade policy for decades and should not be set aside lightly."

They said in the letter, "Although some flexibility may be warranted in emergency situations, the waiver of TRIPS IP protections requested by India, South Africa, and other countries would do little to improve public health during this critical period in the COVID-19 pandemic. The requested waiver is overbroad and unjustified considering the economic harm it would cause and the negligible benefits it would provide."

They said, "Existing aspects of TRIPS and global public health initiatives, along with the existing actions of key IP rights holders and innovators, make the waiver unnecessary. While considerable work can still be done to improve access to COVID-19 medicines and other innovations, that work can be done without the drastic step of suspending IP rights, and significant progress has already been made to address the real obstacles hampering the global COVID-19 response."

The Republican Congressmen said in the letter, "Gifting away our technological leadership and competitive advantage when the US economy remains vulnerable would be irresponsible and send the wrong message to millions of American taxpayers. The damage would extend beyond even the considerable value of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, also endangering the far greater value of the jobs and economic growth promised by these IP rights and the advanced technologies they represent."

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