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Piyush Goyal pushes for multilateral initiative on easy movement of healthcare professionals

New Delhi: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday pushed for a multilateral initiative for easier cross-border movement of health care professionals by next year and sought support for a proposal on a waiver from obligations of countries to implement provisions of the globalIPRagreement in order to ensure unimpeded and timely access to affordable medicines and medical products including diagnostic kits, vaccines, medicines, personal protective equipment and ventilators amid the ongoingpandemic.

At a virtual mini-ministerial meet of around 20 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Goyal also said that some nations who provide large fisheries subsidies and have led to the problem of industrial fishing, must make the highest contributions in line with the ‘Polluter Pays” principle.

India and South Africa have proposed a waiver from obligations of members from certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and an exemption from a clause that pose as challenges for countries with limited manufacturing capacity in accessing these medical supplies.

“He called upon all Members to support the proposal, in order to have a decision on it by MC12, if not earlier,” commerce and industry ministry said in a statement. MC12 is the twelfth ministerial conference of the WTO scheduled for next year.

Goyal said that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the inherent weaknesses and inequalities in the global economic and trading system.

On the heightened challenges of food and livelihood security due to the pandemic, the minister said that an immediate response to the food security challenge would be to deliver an effective outcome on the mandated issue of a permanent solution for Public Stockholding for food security purposes at MC12.

Goyal said that the pandemic has also highlighted the need for easier cross-border movement of health care professionals.

“A multilateral initiative that provides for easier access to medical services under Mode-4 needs to be launched immediately and we should aim to deliver this outcome by MC12,” the ministry said.

Fish subsidies

Stating that India will not accept any attempts to restrict the flexibilities and policy space that developing countries need to better integrate with the global trading system, Goyal said: “We should not repeat the mistakes made during the Uruguay Round negotiations, that allowed unequal and trade-distorting entitlements for select members, while unfairly constraining the less developed member countries who did not have the capacity to support their farmers at that point of time”.

The minister said that appropriate and effective Special & Differential Treatment for developing countries is clear and cannot be disregarded.


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