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India gets wide support on TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines at G-7 meet

India is a “natural ally” of the G-7 nations in defending the shared values from a host of threats stemming from authoritarianism, terrorism, violent extremism, and economic coercion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an outreach session of the summit in Cornwall, UK, on Sunday.

He said open societies were particularly vulnerable to disinformation and cyber-attacks, and stressed the need to ensure that cyberspace remained an avenue for advancing democratic values and not of subverting them.

Over the last two days, Modi spoke in three sessions on issues ranging from health, climate change, and open societies.

The prime minister also found widespread support from leaders, including the Australian prime minister, the director general of the WTO, as well as the UN Secretary General, for text-based negotiations for a temporary patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines, proposed by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

He sought “strong support” for the proposal, Additional Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs P Harish told reporters.

“(French) President Emmanuel Macron also highlighted the need to focus on ramping up production capacities in Africa and called on India to lend its expertise globally,” Harish said, adding that the UN secretary general identified the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver as an important element of his global vaccination plan, a road map to vaccinate the global population by doubling vaccine production.

The proposal for waiving some sections of the TRIPS agreement is expected to help more countries, especially middle- and low-income nations, to access vaccines, amid the Covid-19 crisis. However, it is yet to get a consensus from all WTO member nations.

As lead speaker in the session “Open Societies”, Modi on Sunday highlighted the non-democratic and unequal nature of global governance institutions, and made a strong pitch for the reform of the multilateral system based on the same principles of openness, democracy, transparency, and inclusion.

Talking about India’s achievements on climate action, he pointed out that India was the only G20 country on track to meet its (COP21) Paris commitments. He further said that the planet’s atmosphere, biodiversity and oceans could be protected by countries acting in silos, and called for collective action on climate change.

“The Prime Minister’s message of global solidarity and unity, especially between open and democratic societies and economies, in tackling the global challenges of health, climate change and economic recovery was well received by the Leaders at the Summit,” an official statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had invited the leaders of Australia, South Africa, and South Korea to the outreach sessions at the summit.

The G-7 nations have pledged to donate an additional 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines within the next year.

“We will remain deeply engaged with the G-7 and guest partners on all major issues, health governance, and access to vaccines, climate action and climate justice, diversification of supply chains and building economic resilience, to name just a few,” Harish said. Business Standard

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