India calls for further enhancing affordable access to medicines and facilitating easier movement of health professionals across national borders

New Delhi: India has called for working towards creating a global framework for further enhancing affordable access to medicines for fighting pandemics and facilitating easier movement of health professionals across national borders. In his Interventions at the meeting of the Trade and Investment Ministers of the G20 countries, Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal stressed on the need to uphold our multilateral commitments and improve upon its effectiveness to meet current challenges.

Shri Goyal said that despite many challenges, India has been a dependable and affordable source of efficacious and high quality medical and pharma products to nearly 190 countries around the world. “We are confident that with improved regulatory and R&D cooperation, India can further enhance its capabilities to serve the world in crisis like this. We must ensure that suitable instruments stay in place to address these inabilities and preserve the life, livelihood, food and nutritional security of the poorest.” he said.

The Minister expressed solidarity with the world and expressed India’s support to all frontline health professionals, sanitation workers and all those involved in maintaining essential services to fight the pandemic. He said that the Developing countries and LDCs are particularly vulnerable as they may not have matching resources, infrastructure and technical capacities to face this unprecedented pandemic.

Shri Goyal said that such unprecedented challenges necessitate innovative, collaborative and proactive response from the world. “Our collective act must reflect and uphold the centrality of the rules based multilateral system with development at the centre of any action in trade as well as other areas. We must ensure that the supply of goods, and services most importantly that of vital medicines and food products are not disrupted consistent with national needs. Trade Facilitative responses need to be in place, and wherever required by doing away temporarily, the requirement by authorities like Customs, Banks of producing original documents by importers for various clearances. Additionally, we need to think of a suitable framework under which critical pharma products, medical devices, diagnostic equipment and kits and healthcare professionals can be deployed at short notice across territories under a pre-agreed protocol.”

Shri Goyal said “Let us all act together as per our Leaders instructions in fighting the pandemic by safeguarding global economy, addressing international trade disruptions and by enhancing global cooperation to secure fair, stable and rules based global trade from the vagaries of world market and ensure that it acts as an instrument for the well-being and prosperity of one and all, that it enables nations both to look after their own citizens as well as assist others whenever the need arises, that it leads humanity towards a common sustainable future in line with our commitments to SDG 2030. “

The Trade and Investment Ministers of the G20 and guest countries have decided to keep their markets open, and ensure smooth and continued operation of the logistics networks. The meeting held through Video-conferencing described COVID-19 pandemic as a global challenge, requiring a coordinated global response. The statement issued at the end of the meeting, called upon the international community to step up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth after this crisis.

The statement said that emergency measures designed to tackle COVID-19, if deemed necessary, must be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary, and that they should not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains, and be consistent with WTO rules. “We are actively working to ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies and equipment, critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services across borders, for supporting the health of our citizens. Consistent with national requirements, we will take immediate necessary measures to facilitate trade in those essential goods. We will support the availability and accessibility of essential medical supplies and pharmaceuticals at affordable prices, on an equitable basis, where they are most needed, and as quickly as possible, including by encouraging additional production through incentives and targeted investment, according to national circumstances. We will guard against profiteering and unjustified price increases.”