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The need to extend the WTO TRIPS pharmaceuticals transition period for least developed countries in the Covid-19 era: Evidence from Bangladesh

August 28, 2020

New UN policy brief (pdf) with Prof. Kevin Gallagher of Boston University.


Bangladesh is one of the most successful least developed countries (LDCs). The country has made such strides that in 2021 the United Nations Committee for Development Policy will consider whether it should graduate out of the LDC category altogether. Like few others, Bangladesh took advantage of WTO flexibilities to build a vibrant pharmaceuticals industry that provides needed industrialization and employment. The pharmaceuticals industry also gives access to essential medicines to millions of Bangladeshis as well as people in other developing countries and LDCs. LDC graduation would bring a loss of WTO exceptions, particularly in intellectual property. This policy brief synthesizes recent research, showing that Bangladesh’s vital pharmaceutical industry would be threatened if the country had to adhere fully to WTO rules upon LDC graduation. Given that COVID-19 has dealt such a severe blow to Bangladesh’s development and health prospects, these papers point to the need for Bangladesh to be able to maintain its WTO flexibilities in order for the sector to remain a source of economic growth and health provision in the years to come.

Full paper here (pdf).

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