Key US Official On TRIPS And Public Health To Step Down 11/05/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Ambassador Linnet Deily, the United States representative to the World Trade Organization, has informed staff that she will be leaving office on June 15, according to a US trade official. Deily, who said she will be returning to the United States to spend more time with family, played a key role in the current round of trade negotiations at the WTO, launched in Doha, Qatar in 2001. In particular, the US trade official said Wednesday, she “helped steer the WTO to a consensus on [a] very sensitive issue” related to WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public health. Deily helped to achieve a breakthrough agreement on the implementation of a provision of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which was created in 2001 in response to concerns that the TRIPS agreement might make it difficult for patients in developing countries to access needed pharmaceuticals. According to sources in Geneva and the United States, including a developing country diplomat who participated in the public health negotiations, Deily stepped in to the negotiation at a time when talks over TRIPS and public health were at an impasse and affecting the larger WTO negotiations. At the end of 2002, WTO negotiators nearly reached consensus on implementing Paragraph 6 of the TRIPS and public health declaration, which allowed countries to use existing flexibilities in TRIPS to bypass patents if necessary for public health. Negotiations broke down on 20 December after the United States could not agree to the proposal on the table, the diplomat said. Developing countries held the perception that the hold up was due to the U.S. pharmaceutical sector’s resistance, he added. The United States was “fairly isolated” in the negotiation at that point, as developing countries had formed a strong alliance and got key developed countries on board, such as Australia, the European Union, and Switzerland. One source said it was “politically embarrassing” for the United States. At the January 2003 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United States was challenged to come up with a proposal or else be accused of an unwillingness to contribute to an agreement between governments that would save lives in developing countries, the official said. But representatives of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry sought assurances that there would be no abuse of the provision by countries with the ability to export, such as Brazil and India. The intent of the provision is to allow countries with the ability to make generic versions of necessary medicines to export them to other countries in need as well. During the course of 2003, discussions continued but things began to change when Geneva-based Deily stepped in as the key U.S. interlocutor, replacing Claude Burcky, who had been based at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington. Burcky left to join the pharmaceutical industry, handling global government affairs at Abbott Laboratories. Deily took a different tack that ultimately led to a compromise agreement – a waiver – on 30 August 2003, and earned her the respect of developing country governments. “She managed the negotiations in a very disciplined manner, and I think in a very frank and fair manner,” one official said. Deily was engaged by Brazil, China, India, Kenya and South Africa, acting informally on behalf of the bloc of developing countries, on how to break the impasse. The developing countries signalled a willingness to address the concerns about potential abuse of the provision, but were unwilling to change the text agreed to on 20 December. Deily helped bring about the compromise, which was a statement by the chairman of the WTO General Council to the effect that all WTO members would use the mechanism for its intended purpose, i.e, for public health, and not for commercial gain. “It was a fine line to get a compromise which would secure an agreement, and she managed it in a very wise manner,” the developing country diplomat said. “I think she retained her integrity in the process and did a successful job in representing the US interests more generally, and not just pharmaceutical industry.” Most recently, however, the WTO TRIPS Council failed again to meet a deadline to make the 30 August waiver into a permanent amendment to the TRIPS. The US trade official said Deily had waited until the Senate confirmation and swearing in of new US Trade Representative Rob Portman, and that Deputy US Trade Representative Peter Allgeier would continue to represent the United States at high-level meetings in Geneva. A new ambassador will have to be confirmed. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Key US Official On TRIPS And Public Health To Step Down" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.