U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced on Thursday that World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations over intellectual property waivers for coronavirus vaccines is a chance for the deeply divided trade body to make itself relevant to the world’s needs.
Speaking to the House Ways and Means Committee, Tai voiced her commitment to entering negotiations that take into consideration concerns from all sides, including drug companies.
Tai said “the WTO has not got a record of moving quickly, or getting to yes, across 164 members who must all agree, very often.”
“This is the opportunity for the WTO to show its relevance for mankind,” she added.
Also on Thursday, China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Beijing supports a proposal by the WTO for an intellectual property protection waiver on coronavirus vaccines to enter the consultation stage.
EU and British officials have been skeptical about the usefulness of a U.S. proposal to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, while saying they are prepared to discuss it.