WTO Draft Ministerial Text Urges Progress On TRIPS Issues28/11/2005 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.The new draft text for the upcoming World Trade Organization ministerial in Hong Kong urges negotiators to intensify discussions of issues related to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.The 42-page draft is entitled the “Doha Work Programme,” reflecting the current round of WTO trade negotiations that began in Doha, Qatar, in 2001 and is supposed to end in 2006.The draft was presented on 26 November by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and General Council Chairman Amina Chawahir Mohamed of Kenya, and indicates the status of negotiations for the 13-18 December meeting in Hong Kong.The draft includes references to a register for geographical indications (GIs) for wines and spirits (paragraph 11), so-called non-violation complaints (paragraph 26), the extension of the transition period for least developed countries (paragraph 28), an effort to help least-developed countries obtain inexpensive needed medicines (paragraph 22), and an extension of the protection of GIs beyond wines and spirits (paragraph 21).The draft notes the chairman’s report from a special session of the TRIPS Council “setting out the progress in the negotiations on the establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of geographical indications for wines and spirits.”This special session report was sent last week to the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) by session Chairman Manzoor Ahmad, ambassador of Pakistan to the WTO (IPW, GIs, 24 November). Ahmad indicated in his report that there was no progress in the talks.The draft Hong Kong text shows agreement “to intensify these negotiations” in order to complete them within 2006. The mandate to set up a register for wines and spirits is given in article 23.4 of the TRIPS agreement and paragraph 18 of the Doha Declaration, the draft says.GI protection means that products deriving their names from certain geographical locations, such as Parma ham, could not be produced under the same name by anyone from another location.The draft also takes note of the work done by the TRIPS Council regarding TRIPS “non-violation and situation complaints.”The issue is whether to extend the current moratorium on non-violation complaints in TRIPS. Countries are permitted to bring complaints to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body if they did not receive an expected benefit due to an action by another government or other reason, even if the action does not violate a WTO agreement. TRIPS previously banned such non-violation complaints by stating they could not be brought during the first five years of the agreement, which was until 1999. The moratorium was subsequently extended.The United States and others want an expiration of the moratorium in Hong Kong. The majority of members want the issue off the TRIPS Council agenda.In brackets, indicating that no agreement has so far been reached, the TRIPS Council is directed to continue its examination of the scope and modalities for such complaints, and to make recommendations to our next session. Also unresolved in brackets, the draft text extends the moratorium “in the meantime.”LDCs Transition Period, Public HealthThe draft also proposes to welcome the TRIPS Council’s decision to extend the transition period for least-developed countries to implement the TRIPS agreement, as outlined in paragraph 66.1 of the TRIPS agreement. This is written in brackets, however, so it is not agreed.Least-developed countries were supposed to implement the TRIPS agreement by the end of 2005, but have in a joint proposal asked for a 15-year extension of this deadline. The United States has proposed five years with certain conditions (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 25 November).This issue is on the agenda of a TRIPS Council meeting scheduled for 29 November. Also on that meeting agenda is TRIPS and public health, which relates to discussions of trade rules that would make it easier for poor countries to import inexpensive generic medicines. The draft ministerial text merely notes, in brackets, “Text to be inserted following meeting of TRIPS Council on 29 November” (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 22 November).Speeding Up Outstanding Implementation IssuesIn 2004, the General Council encouraged negotiating bodies such as the TNC to “redouble their efforts to find appropriate solutions as a priority to outstanding implementation-related issues.” These include a proposal to extend protection of GIs beyond wines and spirits.Paragraph 12 of the Doha Declaration is on implemention of the present agreements, and it is divided into those implementation issues that are negotiations (12(a)), and those that constitute so-called other outstanding implementation issues (12.(b)). Members disagree on whether these issues have a negotiating mandate for Hong Kong, and the draft text appears to recommend only further consultations on the issues.The director general (carried out by the vice-director general Rufus Yerxa on his behalf) has lead consultations on paragraph 12(b) issues, including a proposal to extend GI protection beyond wines and spirits. In the draft, the WTO requests that the director general “continue his consultative process.”If needed, the director general should also appoint chairpersons of concerned WTO bodies as his friends or hold dedicated consultations, the draft states. Moreover, the director general is asked to report to each regular meeting of the TNC and the General Council.Finally on the implementation issues, the General Council will “review progress and take any appropriate action no later than” a certain period left blank in the draft.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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"WTO Draft Ministerial Text Urges Progress On TRIPS Issues" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.