CBD Issues Subject Of Tough Negotiations At WTO 16/12/2005 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)Hong Kong–Countries pushing for the launch of negotiations on the protection of biodiversity and traditional knowledge have been engaged in tough talks at the World Trade Organization ministerial in Hong Kong today. The countries, led by India and Brazil, are working to get language on the issue included in the text expected at the conclusion of the 13-18 December ministerial. The ministerial text will outline the progress made here and set the terms for further talks during the final year of the Doha round of trade negotiations begun in Qatar, Doha in 2001 and slated to end next year. But the first deadline is to whether they can get some new text on the disclosure issue into the revised draft of the ministerial text, expected to be presented on Saturday afternoon. The issue arises in the context of a mandate to discuss implementation issues related to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This includes the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD issues include a requirement for the disclosure of origin of materials in patent applications, a mandated review of TRIPS Article 27.3(b) on the patenting of plant and animals, and the protection of traditional knowledge. In a 16 December press conference the WTO said members needed to indicate by 10pm in Hong Kong what changes they sought in the latest ministerial text which was issued on 7 December. Facilitators responsible for the various subjects under negotiation will report by 6am Saturday, the WTO said. The WTO said on 16 December that the facilitators — officials guiding talks in each negotiating area — have been discussing CBD and TRIPS and the extension of protection for geographical indications (GIs) beyond wines and spirits. GIs are names for items like food deriving from a specific geographic area (such as Parma ham). TRIPS issues have been discussed in the green room — the main negotiating room at the ministerial in which smaller groups of government officials meet with WTO Director General Pascal Lamy — during the afternoon of 16 December. According to a spokesperson from Costa Rica, the discussions included a proposal for a register for GIs on wines and spirits, (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 24 November). Proposals For Disclosure Considered Before the 10pm deadline, an official said that the countries pushing for the inclusion of biodiversity requirements were considering two possible proposals and also were talking bilaterally with the opponents. The official said they were “making progress with many delegates but not with the United States.” The first proposal called for the launch of negotiations without prejudice to outcome on three components of the disclosure requirement, the official said. This would include disclosing the origin of genetic material and traditional knowledge, obtaining prior consent, and a commitment to benefit sharing, the official said. The second draft did not mention specifically the requirements but suggested a “composite” disclosure obligation, according to the official. Officials still must discuss with the facilitator in charge of TRIPS issues (implementation and other issues), Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker, how the text they decided upon should be inserted into the ministerial draft. The proposal would either fall under paragraph 33 of the ministerial text, relating to paragraph 12 of the Doha Declaration, or paragraph 38 relating to paragraph 19 of the 2001 Doha Declaration, the official said. Paragraph 12 addresses implementation of present agreements, while paragraph 19 sets out the mandate on the relationship between TRIPS and CBD (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 8 December). Another official said that the paragraph 19 option was being considered because the debate on paragraph 12 implementation issues related to the extension of protection of geographical indications had become highly polarised and difficult, endangering the disclosure proposal there. This official said that at the end of the 16 December process, Peru circulated a text that recognised the importance of the disclosure elements, including disclosure, prior consent and benefit-sharing. But instead of calling for the launch of negotiations, it would call for “focused discussions” on the subject, the source said. The first official said that the pro-disclosure countries were talking to technical, political and like-minded delegates about the location of the language. They were also talking to the opponents regarding their “level of comfort.” An official from a country seeking disclosure requirements cited frustration that for eight years opponents had not taken the discussions seriously, and that now new questions were being raised seemingly to delay progress on the negotiations. A spokesperson from the Canadian delegation indicated that Canada is not ready to proceed on talks related to CBD issues. The spokesperson said that Canada was one of a dozen countries forming a core group that was involved in negotiations on the CBD. “Recent discussion at the WTO TRIPS Council on many aspects of this issue has been increasingly informative and useful, but Canada considers more work and members’ understanding is necessary before we move forward,” the spokesperson said. GIs Only ‘Propaganda,’ Says French Farmer Champion A participant at the ministerial said that there appeared to be ongoing discussions on linking the CBD issue with the GI issue, but this was not confirmed at press time. The WTO confirmed that the CBD issues and the proposal to extend GI protection beyond wines and spirits were being discussed at the ministerial. The European Union’s linking of geographical indications to the overall trade talks in agriculture as a possible trade-off for European farmers is ‘mostly propaganda,’ a French farmer champion said. The French farmer activist José Bové told Intellectual Property Watch that the EU’s aim to sell the issue of GIs as a trade-off in further cuts in agricultural tariffs was “mostly propaganda” because GIs are not the area in which French farmers are earning their money. He also said that the issue of GIs was an old argument as there was a GI agreement dating 50 years back to a 1946 Lisbon agreement, and GIs in wines, spirits and cheese were covered. There is “already a lot of agreement on this issue,” Bové said. But he said it should be “made bigger,” and GIs in developing countries should be protected the same way as they were in the developed world. 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 "CBD Issues Subject Of Tough Negotiations At WTO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.