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Wins at the WTO

The World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference, which wrapped up late last week, ended on a high note for manufacturers in several regards. 
What’s going on: On the agenda at the gathering was talk of expanding a 2022 TRIPS waiver to include COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics—a move that would have proved damaging to manufacturing competitiveness and innovation—but the international body did not include the expansion in its final MC13 Ministerial Declaration.

  • Also under discussion at the meeting was the possible expiration of an e-commerce duty moratorium that is important for manufacturers, but WTO members agreed to extend the freeze. 

Why it’s important: “Global leaders at the WTO heard manufacturers’ stark warnings that an expansion of the TRIPS waiver would have endangered manufacturers’ fundamental ability to fight global crises, including COVID-19,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

  • It “also would have emboldened our global competitors, chipped away at American innovation and jeopardized our ability to fight future diseases.”
  • The e-commerce duty moratorium extension—against which WTO members India and Indonesia argued at the conference—is “critical for manufacturers that rely on the flow of research, design, data and software in markets around the world,” NAM Director of International Policy Dylan Clement said.

Our role: The NAM’s advocacy was crucial in obtaining these wins. 

  • The organization led efforts alerting policymakers worldwide to the danger of an expanded TRIPS waiver, consulting directly with the Biden administration, members of Congress, international governments and business organizations.
  • And Timmons stressed the negative likely outcomes of an expansion with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as well as U.S. and foreign government officials, during March 2023 meetings in Geneva, Switzerland. 
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