EFPIA Statement on the 11 November Foreign Affairs Council Meeting

EFPIA welcomes the outcomes of the meeting of EU Trade Ministers of 11 November expressing broad support for a commitment on a Trade and Health Initiative at the 12th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (MC12). The innovative pharmaceutical industry believes that the EU has a unique opportunity to align on an ambitious trade agenda ahead of MC12. We call on the EU and its Member States to seize the opportunity to make progress on the critical issues on their agenda and welcome the EU taking the lead on the reform of the WTO. These include the functioning of the WTO international trading system, the world’s ability to respond to health crisis, and a renewed close relationship with the United States.

The global biopharmaceutical industry supports a strong international trading system rooted in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) core principles of pursuing open borders, non-discriminatory treatment, predictability, and transparency. WTO members broadly agree on the outlines of reforms needed for the organization. The EU should work with other members to agree to changes designed to address the WTO’s capacity to tackle competitive distortions and the presence of a binding dispute resolution system.

Trade has played a key role in enabling the world to respond to COVID-19, and our industry has played a critical role in these efforts. The dynamic innovation ecosystem that rests on the international trading system, including rules on intellectual property, have made possible the successful development of several COVID-19 vaccines and treatments by EFPIA members. Strengthening this system, for example through the Trade and Health Initiative (TAHI), would support vaccine distribution and greatly enhance our pandemic response – for COVID-19 and any future crisis.

Our industry welcomes the recent agreement between the EU and US on steel and aluminium and calls on both sides to agree to concrete steps for continued and sustained engagement on a positive bilateral agenda. The EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) is one such initiative. Both sides should use the momentum from the TTC’s first meeting last September to work both on EU-US relations and international trade issues where Europe and the US have common concerns and interests. Our sector stands ready to support a successful TTC with concrete proposals to advance medical innovation and patient access to medicines. We also call for maintaining high ambition levels in the EU’s ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, given their important role in driving bilateral trade with key partners.