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Bangladesh - Health - World wide - February 26, 2024

Bangladesh seeks medicine IP exemption till 2032

Zarif Mahmud : As a least developed or LDC, Bangladesh has long been exempted from compliance with the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) treaty regulations on intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry.In 2026, if it leaves the list of Least Developed Countries (LDC), this facility should not be available.But even if it is out of LDC, Bangladesh needs that facility to provide drugs at low cost.
In such a reality, Bangladesh will seek exemption from intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical industry until 2032 in the upcoming ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization-WTO.This information is known from the sources of the Ministry of Commerce.
The 13th WTO Ministerial Conference begins on Monday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.A delegation headed by Commerce State Minister Ahsanul Islam Titu is participating in the conference which will last until February 29.
Currently 164 countries are members of WTO.Bangladesh is the most influential country of the LDC group in the organization.This conference is particularly important for Bangladesh as it is at the stage of transition from LDC. Last October, in the meeting of the General Assembly of the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland, it was decided to continue the tariff and quota-free facilities for the import of goods of
those who will leave the LDC, including Bangladesh.
However, the number of additional years of benefits is to be decided in the ministerial conference.Bangladesh will propose an additional six years.Already, the European Union, Canada and the United Kingdom have announced the continuation of trade facilitation for three years after the transition from LDC.
According to the sources of the Ministry of Commerce, if there is no TRIPS facility in the pharmaceutical industry, patents will apply to at least 20 percent of the drugs produced in the country.It will increase the price.According to the non-governmental research organization Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), the cost of producing insulin will increase up to eight times because of this. Bangladesh imports several consumer goods.
But some countries stop exporting some products without any prior announcement.This creates instability in consumer goods markets.In this situation, it will be proposed not to implement the ban on the export of products with emphasis on food safety in the case of LDC countries.Apart from this, according to the rules, a country has to inform the WTO before banning the export of any product.But many times, most of the countries stop the export without informing.
Due to this, the demand to impose the obligation to issue notification before the export stop will be raised in this conference.Meanwhile, after transition from LDC, there will be pressure on agriculture and fisheries sector with subsidies.In this regard, concessions will be sought from LDC.
Bangladesh will be cautious about subsidies especially in the fisheries sector. Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary of the Ministry of Commerce told that along with additional duty and quota-free facilities, intellectual property concessions will be sought in the pharmaceutical industry.
At the same time, the demand will be raised for notifying before the export of consumer goods and keeping LDC countries out of it.
Former member of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission Mustafa Abid Khan said, these are logical demands.In addition to presenting these claims, strong arguments should be presented in favor of it.At the same time, preparations should be made for making various types of bilateral agreements with different countries for the expansion of trade and commerce. Those concerned also say that Bangladesh has to work with three interests in the WTO ministerial conference.Get all LDC benefits till 2026, get LDC benefits for another three years and prepare now for the next benefits to move to a developing country.The ministerial level discussions should take care of what benefits are coming for the developing countries.
The Twelfth Ministerial Conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland in June 2022, after several postponements due to the spread of the coronavirus.

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