US lawmakers call for WTO waiver meeting with Merkel during visit to Washington
WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) – Nine U.S. Democratic lawmakers on Monday urged Germany to lift its “blockade” of a COVID-19-related intellectual property rights waiver under global trade rules, and called on the Chancellor Angela Merkel to meet them during her visit to Washington.
Representative Jan Schakowsky, member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives; Representative Earl Blumenauer, who heads the business subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee; and other lawmakers have said they are concerned that Germany is leading the EU’s opposition to a waiver proposal being discussed at the World Trade Organization.
“The United States and nearly all other WTO members are seeking to enact a temporary COVID emergency TRIPS waiver as soon as possible,” they wrote in a letter to German Ambassador Emily Haber, adding that COVID-19 vaccine production must be increased to save millions. of lives.
“Thanks to IP barriers, it is the US and German companies that have the only approved COVID-19 mRNA vaccines that hold the monopoly power to decide whether this scaling will happen,” they wrote.
The German Embassy did not immediately comment.
Officials in the Biden administration say the waiver will help boost global production of coronavirus vaccines. German officials and pharmaceutical companies have argued that companies have invested their own funds to develop vaccines and that giving up their intellectual property rights would jeopardize this work in the future.
Merkel will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday for a wide-ranging discussion that will touch on the global response to the pandemic and the proposed waiver of intellectual property rights, a senior administration official said on Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the president was a “strong supporter” of the waiver, but that it was just one of many tools that could be used to raise rates of vaccination against COVID-19 around the world.
Supporters of the waiver are planning various protests during Merkel’s visit to Washington, including a “die-in” near the White House and a giant Merkel puppet on Thursday, organizers said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal. Editing by Gerry Doyle)