Trade rules as important as aid targets

Jo wants to see trade rules governing the production of anti-AIDS drugs working in the favour of developing countries


Jo Swinson MP has called for fairer trade rules governing the production of anti-AIDS drugs.

Speaking at a debate in Parliament today, Jo said that allowing developing countries to produce their own anti-AIDS drugs was as important as meeting spending targets on aid.

Following the debate, Jo commented:

“The trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, known as TRIPs, govern whether developing countries can produce their own anti-AIDS drugs and other disease treatments.

“Developing countries can produce their own drugs more cheaply than those sold by pharmaceutical companies, which are often prohibitively expensive for the people who need them. Globally, only 15% of the estimated 6.5 million people who need treatment for HIV/AIDS were receiving it in June 2005.

“While it is vital that we track the Government’s progress on development assistance spending, it is equally important to empower developing countries to tackle HIV/AIDS by making TRIPs work in their favour. Nobody should lose a life to disease because of a lack of affordable treatment.”

Jo also paid tribute to MP Tom Clarke for introducing the bill being debated, which, if passed, will force the Government to report annually on progress its towards reaching aid spending targets:

“I commend Tom Clarke for bringing this important Bill before Parliament. Having secured a debate on trade with developing countries back in November, it gives me pleasure to see cross-party MPs from this area working to eradicate poverty with common purpose.

“Several local people contacted me to let me know they wanted me to stay in Parliament on a Friday to support this bill, rather than come back to East Dunbartonshire – in light of the importance of this legislation, I was more than happy to oblige.”

The International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Bill requires the government to report annually on progress towards achieving the OECD countries’ goal of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on development assistance.

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