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Enable access to vaccine raw materials, share technology: FM

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, MAY 04, 2021: STRESSING against any vaccine nationalism, Finance Minister’s Ms Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday asked developed nations to enhance global cooperation in sharing diagnostic, therapeutic and technologies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries will have to be open about sharing vaccine-based technologies. The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS] agreement will have to be looked at in the context of the pandemic. There cannot be any more vaccine nationalism, countries will have to be flexible about it,” Ms Sitharaman said at the annual meet of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) TRIPS Agreement is a legal pact establishing minimum standards allowing its signatories to provide more extensive protection of intellectual property, if they so wish. India has been a proponent for waiving off certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

Participating in the Governor’s seminar alongside delegates from 68 member nations of the ADB, Ms Sitharaman said enhanced regional and global cooperation is the key to dealing with the pandemic.

Information on all tools for fighting COVID-19 – diagnostic, therapeutic, vaccines or technology should be shared internationally, she said.

She emphasised on the need to enable India’s access to critical raw materials essential for ramping up vaccine manufacturing capacity. “Although we speak about global value chain and the need for countries to open up trade and also facilitate free movement of raw materials, critical components, critical APIs [Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients] and so on, we find that the movement of critical raw materials for production of vaccines is finding certain hiccups," she said.

The Finance Minister also spoke on the need for the private sector and civil society to partner with the government to achieve resilient and sustainable growth. She said the government has extended financial assistance to various sectors, including a Rs. 3 lakh crore loan guarantee to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The post pandemic future, said Ms Sitharaman, will be based on the “principles of openness, transparency, fairness, sustainability and inclusiveness.” For this, regional cooperation and involvement of multilateral institutions in creation of digital assets as well as disaster resilient assets will be a priority.

She assured that India is committed to and stands ready to strengthen all efforts aimed at enhancing the regional as well as global cooperation. She urged the ADB to come out with comprehensive solutions to focus on health resilience in the Asia Pacific.