Home / Economy / India calls for dismantling trade barriers in fight against covid
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NEW DELHI : Trade minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday called for waiver of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and dismantling new trade barriers in the global fight against the covid-19 pandemic.

“Our response to the pandemic needs to ensure equitable access to vaccines and other covid-19 related health products by ensuring quick resolution of the supply side constraints. One of the ways to demonstrate this is by accepting the TRIPS waiver proposal," Goyal said, in his address to the G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting in Naples, Italy on Tuesday.

Goyal called for actively resolving new trade barriers like vaccine differentiations or covid passports, which impose mobility restrictions and impede the movement of personnel needed for delivering critical services.

“Covid-19 crisis is a powerful reminder of our inter-connectedness, and the need for a coordinated global strategy to overcome such an unprecedented public health situation," he said.

Goyal underlined the need for an early universal vaccination against covid-19. “Apart from focusing on facilitating free flow of goods, I invite G-20 countries to join in efforts to make health services accessible and more affordable by the citizens of the world by enabling free flow of health services," he said, adding, “as a quick response to the pandemic, I am happy to inform that our telemedicine initiative ‘e-Sanjeevani’, has been serving millions of Indians. I am happy to offer it to the entire world."

Calling for an equitable and balanced outcome to the trade negotiations in the fisheries sector, Goyal advocated that countries engaged in distant water fishing should stop subsidizing their fishing in high seas and gradually reduce their fishing capacities, particularly, for overfished stocks.

“To achieve balanced outcomes in fisheries subsidies, policy space for future is a must, not only to protect the livelihoods of poor and marginal fishermen and address, the food security concerns but also to diversify, modernise and develop the fisheries sector, he said. Separately, Goyal also discussed the agreement on joint multilateral positions in fisheries etc with his Australian counterpart during a one-to-one meeting on Monday.

In his G-20 Ministerial address, Goyal also said India is committed towards the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while emphasizing that sustainability cannot be seen in isolation and has to be linked to making available grant-based, long tenure, low cost and concessional and affordable technologies.

“India has consistently maintained that environmental/sustainability measures need careful assessment to ensure that they do not become new trade barriers and the right forum for them is the dedicated multilateral environmental agreements," he said.

On Tuesday, it turned out to be a power-packed day for Goyal on the sidelines of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting at Sorrento, Italy. He met nearly 15 ministers to advance India's trade position and negotiated bilateral and multilateral agreements. The dignitaries Goyal met included DG WTO and his counterparts from the US, UK, EU, Brazil, China, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada, South Korea and Mexico.

Goyal unequivocally put forth the position that India is working towards the success of the upcoming WTO 12th Ministerial Conference (WTO MC12) next month but the outcome must be just and equitable. “Historical wrongs against developing countries must be corrected rather than being carried over," he said.

In his meetings with the Canadian minister, Goyal discussed steps to take forward the FTA negotiations with the newly elected government while he called upon his South Korean and EU counterparts to accelerate review of the FTA. With the Mexican Minister, Goyal discussed cooperation in healthcare. Goyal also met the DG, WTO to discuss the MC12 agenda.

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