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WTO’s TRIPS Council Grants Extension To World’s Poorest Nations

“The globe’s poorest nations have won an eight-year extension of a waiver on intellectual property rules, but still need to hold talks on the vexed issue of pharmaceutical patents, World Trade Organization [WTO] officials said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost reports. “A session of the 159-nation WTO’s TRIPS Council — standing for trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights — ruled that the waiver for 34 countries can now run until July 1, 2021,” the news service writes, noting, “The TRIPS agreement, in force since 1995, requires WTO member states to legislate and enforce minimum standards for the protection of intellectual property in order to boost confidence in global commerce” (6/11).

“The extension of the agreement giving the world’s least developed countries exemption from implementing the full standards of patent protection observed by wealthy countries means impoverished countries will, for the time being, preserve access to generic antiretroviral drugs essential to fighting HIV effectively in some of the hardest-hit countries,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog states (Barton, 6/11). “The decision comes as WTO members continue to work feverishly toward concluding a set of deliverables in time for their upcoming ministerial conference at year’s end in Bali, Indonesia,” according to an article in the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development’s “Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest,” which adds, “While many have warned in recent months that preparations for Bali are not moving at the necessary pace, the success of this extension effort has been welcomed by some as a sign that members can still negotiate constructively” (6/13).