Legal Framework for Waiving World Trade Organization (WTO) Obligations [May 17, 2021] [open pdf - 641KB]
From the Document: "On May 6, 2021, the Biden Administration announced [hyperlink] that it supported negotiating a waiver of certain obligations in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement [hyperlink]) at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The announcement represents a shift in the U.S. position at the WTO on South Africa and India's October 2020 proposal [hyperlink] to waive some TRIPS obligations to address the 'prevention, containment or treatment' of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). To date, WTO members remain divided as to the need for or appropriateness of the proposed waiver. As of this writing, South Africa and India are revising [hyperlink] the proposal with the aim of submitting a revised text later this month. [...] After the Biden Administration's announcement, some Members of Congress have asked, including during a Senate Finance Committee hearing [hyperlink], about the Administration's authority to agree to such a waiver. This Sidebar discusses how waivers are negotiated at the WTO, and the President's authority, delegated to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), to agree to waivers of WTO obligations."
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10599
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/