Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov11/03)
21 November 2011
Third World Network
LDCs table proposal on TRIPS for MC8
Published in SUNS #7261 dated 16 November 2011
Geneva, 15 Nov (Kanaga Raja) -- The Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
on 15 November tabled a proposal on extending the current deadline of
1 July 2013 for them to implement the World Trade Organization's (WTO)
The proposal has been submitted for the upcoming eighth WTO Ministerial
Conference (MC8) taking place in Geneva from 15-17 December 2011.
According to trade officials, the original deadline for the LDCs was
Following a request from the LDCs in October 2005, the TRIPS Council
on 29 November of that year decided that LDCs shall not be required
to apply the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, other than Articles
3,4,5, until 1 July 2013, or until such a date on which they cease to
be a least-developed country Member, whichever date is earlier.
According to trade officials, this decision did not apply for the case
of patents for pharmaceutical products, whereby the 2001 Doha Declaration
on TRIPS and Public Health extended the compliance period for LDCs to
According to trade officials, the TRIPS Council held an informal consultation
15 November, at which the LDC proposal, titled "Elements Paper
on the Extension of the Transition Period under Article 66.1 of the
TRIPS Agreement", was tabled.
The LDC proposal (IP/C/W/566) recognises that Least Developed Country
Members continue to face serious economic, financial and administrative
constraints in their efforts to bring their domestic legal system into
conformity with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, and as such the
continued relevance of the previous request made for an extension of
the transition period under Article 66.1.
It also takes note of the challenges faced by the majority of Least
Developed Country Members to submit their priority needs for technical
and financial cooperation under the Decision of 29 November 2005 and
the lack of resource mobilisation to support the individual priority
needs identified by the Least Developed Country Members that have made
their submission under the same decision.
The proposal recalls the commitment by Developed Country Members to
provide enhanced technical and financial cooperation in favour of Least
Developed Country Members to assist Least Developed Country Members
in implementing the TRIPS Agreement and develop a viable technological
base in line with their special needs and requirements.
According to the proposal: "In view of the above, Recognise the
need to further extending the transition period in favour of Least Developed
Country Members; and
"Instruct the TRIPS Council to take a favourable decision in this
regard and report thereon to the WTO ninth Ministerial Conference to
be held in December 2013."
According to trade officials, while it is the TRIPS Council that has
the authority to decide on extending the deadline, the LDCs want the
ministers (at MC8) to make a political statement instructing the TRIPS
Council to "take a favourable decision" on extending the deadline
and report to the next ministerial conference.
The LDCs are not proposing that the ministers specify how long the extension
should be. That would be left to the TRIPS Council, added trade officials.
The decision governing the present extension included requirements for
the LDCs to identify their priorities for technical assistance in intellectual
property protection, for developed countries to respond effectively,
and for the WTO, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and
other agencies to strengthen their cooperation on technical assistance
and other issues, trade officials explained.
In presenting the proposal at the informal consultation, Bangladesh
(the group's general coordinator) and Angola (its TRIPS coordinator)
noted that only six countries have submitted their priority needs --
Sierra Leone, Uganda, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Tanzania and Senegal.
According to trade officials, those voicing support for the proposal
for a ministerial political signal were: China, Australia, Mauritius,
Tanzania, Canada, Ecuador, Norway, New Zealand, Brazil, Cuba, India,
Chile, Egypt, Hong Kong-China and Turkey.
Some of them linked this to their support for a broader outcome on LDCs
from the Ministerial Conference. Some stressed that any political signal
should not pre-empt the future discussion in the TRIPS Council, said
On the other hand, the United States, the European Union, Switzerland
and Japan said that they need more time to consider the proposal, with
some saying that they need a fuller assessment of the state of play.
According to trade officials, the EU added that it also supports a broader
outcome for LDCs from the Ministerial Conference, for example, on cotton
or duty-free, quota-free market access for LDC exports.
According to trade officials, following the presentation of the LDC
proposal on 15 November, the TRIPS Council will meet in formal session
on 17 November if further consultations indicate a consensus on the
This will mean that the proposal can be put on the agenda of the General
Council meeting taking place on 30 November-1 December, and then get
forwarded to the Ministerial Conference. The issue would then return
to the TRIPS Council for a more detailed discussion and possible decision
on whether or not to extend the deadline before it expires in mid-2013,
said trade officials.
Bangladesh apologized to delegations for submitting the proposal so
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