Excerpts Dealing With Paragraph 6 Negotiations From the Transcript of a Press Conference Given by Robert Zoellick

February 19, 2003

The United States played a central role at Doha in securing the Declaration on TRIPS [Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights] and Public Health, which we know is very important to our partners in Africa. And at Doha, we agreed we had one more task, to find a solution to one narrow remaining issue: the use of compulsory licensing by countries that didn't have sufficient capacity to manufacture the needed pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, a number of countries and outside interests sought to expand this issue, both in terms of diseases to be addressed and the countries eligible to export. This is not a disagreement about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, other epidemics or Africa. We will continue to work with others towards a multilateral solution within the WTO, but in the meantime we took a step of implementing a moratorium -- not as a substitute, but as a sign of good faith not to challenge poor countries in the WTO that use compulsory licensing to meet their urgent health crises. We're pleased that Switzerland, Canada, Hungary and the European Union followed our lead and adopted similar steps. We hope that the government of Japan will join us in this humanitarian response.

I visited sub-Saharan Africa recently, and I could see the economic, social and human devastation caused by HIV/AIDS. That's one reason why President Bush in his recent State of the Union message announced an emergency plan for AIDS relief by committing $15 billion over the next five years to help with the most afflicted nations in Africa and the Caribbean. I was particularly pleased that some of our African colleagues came up to me and emphasized that this was the heart of what they needed to deal with, with HIV/AIDS.


QUESTION: Ambassador Zoellick, My name is Ravi Khan. I represent Washington Trade Daily. A couple of questions ... The second question: as regards the Brazilian proposal on TRIPS and public health, Paragraph 6 mechanism, would you agree with Ambassador Amorim [Foreign Affairs Minister Celso Amorim] that this can be a basis to have a multilateral solution in the coming days? And third, when would the U.S. --


On your second question, I don't really think it's fair to say there's a formal proposal. I think we had a good discussion about the points that I outlined in my statement. I emphasized that we don't have a problem offering the Doha definition for the African countries, so this really shouldn't be seen as an Africa issue, and for those of you that write about the issue, it's not an HIV/AIDS issue. It's an issue of whether you expand it to more countries with more diseases. I think there is a spirit of good will around the table. I think people realize that it's a sensitive political issue for all countries, so we'll keep trying to work for a multilateral solution. In the meantime, the United States is trying to do what it can, first with a moratorium, and second with the biggest financial commitment, by far, of any country or any group of countries to try to deal with the HIV/AIDS problem. Here again, I was very pleased I had a chance to talk with my African colleagues in Mauritius at the AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act] Forum a couple weeks ago. I explained this to them. A number of them came up to me here, and they said they know it's a sensitive issue, but frankly they feel the United States is trying and we're in part being held up by others.


QUESTION: Mr. Zoellick, I'm Clovis Rossi, from the Brazilian Daily Folha de Sao Paulo. Coming back to TRIPS and public health, and accepting that there is not a proposal that Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim suggestion. Is it a good idea, a good suggestion, or at least a good starting point to solve the famous Paragraph 6 discussion?

AMBASSADOR ZOELLICK: I find all the ideas I get from Brazil to be good [laughter]. They're in varying degrees. I had a chance to work with Minister Amorim when he served in Geneva. I think he's trying to play a positive role. I think he's trying to come up with some useful ideas. Just so you get a sense of the framework here, the problem is the one that I've outlined. I think everybody wants to try to get this done, but in the course of the discussion of dealing with this narrow issue, it expanded. So, one way to deal with it would be to say, well, let's make sure that we're not covering drugs for obesity or Viagra or other issues. Let's focus on what we said we were going to focus on. We tried that. There was some rejection to it. Another was to say, well, let's really focus on the countries that need this. So this is a topic of discussion and debate that we take good suggestions from, and on this and many other issues, we find that the Brazilian delegation -- the career officials as well as the new ministers -- are good partners in ideas and dialogue. We also talked about the ALCA [Free Trade Area of the Americas]. We also want to focus on that with them.


For the full transcript: http://usinfo.state.gov/cgi-bin/washfile/display.pl?p=/products/washfile/latest&f=03021902.clt&t=/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

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