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There is no room for vaccine nationalism, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman- New Indian Express

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NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday called on developed countries to share vaccine technology and said there could be no vaccine nationalism. The Union Minister’s statement while speaking at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) comes as India is facing a vaccine shortage amid growing cases of Covid-19.

It also attempted to review the Intellectual Property Rights Trade (TRIPS) agreement in the light of the coronavirus virus pandemic. “Countries will have to be open about sharing vaccine-based technologies. The TRIPS agreement will have to be seen in the context of the pandemic. There can be no more vaccine nationalism, countries will have to be flexible about with that, “she said.

The TRIPS Agreement is a legal pact between all member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It sets minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of various forms of intellectual property as apply to nationals of other WTO member nations. The agreement has been in force since January 1995.

Attending a virtual seminar, Sitharaman said we need to have a global multilateral approach to dealing with the Covid pandemic. Post-pandemic, she said, “the future … will have to be based on the principles of openness, transparency, justice, sustainability and inclusiveness.” FM also said information on tools to combat diagnostic, therapeutic vaccines, or Covid-19 technology should be shared internationally. Sitharaman stressed enabling India access to critical raw materials essential to increasing India’s vaccine production capacity.

Speaking about the government’s efforts to keep the wheels of the economy running, Sitharaman said it has extended financial assistance to various sectors. Calling MSMEs the backbone of the economy, she noted that the government has extended financial assistance through a 3-lakh crore loan guarantee. The finance ministry on Monday also waived the Integrated GST (IGST) until June 30 for importing Covid-related ancillary material donated or received free of charge.

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