TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec07/04)
10 December 2007
WTO Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa told members at an informal consultation this week that the ground has not shifted much with respect to the issues of Geographical Indications (GI) extension and the TRIPS/CBD relationship.
He said that Director-General Pascal Lamy will continue to report on these two items in broad terms to the General Council (the next meeting is scheduled for 19-20 December).
A series of consultations on these issues are being held by Yerxa on behalf of the Director-General under the rubric of "implementation" in the Doha Development Agenda.
In the latest consultation open to all members on 3 December, trade officials said that two groups of members submitted proposals for the two issues to be part of the "modalities" decisions to be negotiated early next year.
to trade officials, other members continued to oppose bringing the two
subjects - extension of the higher level of protection for GIs beyond
wines and spirits, and amending the TRIPS Agreement to include disclosure
requirements - into the
On the issue of GI extension, the "Friends of Geographical Indications" circulated a short text to be included in "the horizontal modalities decision".
According to trade officials, the group proposed that the WTO General Council accept the text, which would make the "extension" issue formally part of the Doha Round negotiations and the "Single Undertaking" that ties all the issues together in a single package.
The aim of the negotiations would be to amend the TRIPS Agreement so that the higher level of protection currently given to wines and spirits is extended to all products. The negotiations would also ensure that various exceptions (Article 24) would also apply, according to the text.
group is composed of the EU,
to trade officials, support also came from
Trade officials said that Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Argentina, the US, Chinese Taipei, Chile, Costa Rica and South Africa continued to oppose the move.
Technical discussions should continue because a number of questions remain unanswered, including why the regular level of protection (Article 22) is inadequate, according to these countries. They were also concerned about the implications arising from the current negotiations on a multilateral register for geographical indications for wines and spirits.
On the TRIPS/Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) issue, the developing countries that are calling for the TRIPS Agreement to be amended submitted a text proposing that this issue also formally become part of the negotiations.
They want to amend the TRIPS Agreement so that patent applicants are required to disclose the country of origin of genetic resources and traditional knowledge used in the inventions, evidence that they received "prior informed consent", and evidence of access and "fair and equitable" benefit sharing.
According to trade officials, their latest document proposes that members agree to amend the TRIPS Agreement to require disclosure and to start negotiating a text.
This proposal would also be included in "the horizontal modalities decision".
group was represented by
Trade officials said that at the 3 December consultation, several members of the group explicitly linked this subject with the GI proposal.
to trade officials,
Deputy Director-General Yerxa observed that the ground has not shifted much and said that the Director-General will continue to report in broad terms to the General Council. +