1. In proposing the agenda for adoption, the Chairman noted that the proposed agenda (WTO/AIR/2026) did not contain items on the outstanding implementation issues in the area of TRIPS, which had figured on the Council's agenda last year. He recalled that the Trade Negotiations Committee ("TNC") had discussed, at its meeting of 4 and 5 February 2003, how to carry forward the work on outstanding implementation issues pursuant to paragraph 12(b) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration. At that meeting, the Chair of the TNC had recalled his concluding remarks made at the December TNC meeting at which he had announced his intention to hold informal consultations. The Chair of the TNC had said that he had decided to request the assistance of the Chairs of the eight subsidiary bodies, calling on them to act as "friends of the TNC Chair" as part of his consultations. He had emphasized that this was not the same as referring the issues back to the respective bodies, and said that he thought that there was an agreement that those bodies should not undertake further work on the paragraph 12(b) issues for as long as his consultations were continuing. The Chairs of the eight subsidiary bodies were to be assisted by the four Deputy Directors-General and report back to the Chair of the TNC so as to allow him to report to the meeting of the TNC on 4 and 5 March. The TNC had taken note of its Chair's statement.
2. The Chairman informed the Council that he had already initiated his consultations on these matters, acting as a "friend of the TNC Chair". He suggested that, after the Council had completed its work on the items on the agenda, the new Chair to be elected at the end of the formal meeting, in his capacity as a "friend of the TNC Chair", would carry out open-ended consultations on outstanding implementation issues. In the light of the action underway in the context of the TNC, it had therefore been proposed that the Council not undertake further work on the paragraph 12(b) issues at the present formal meeting.
3. The Chairman noted that the proposed agenda included the items on the "Review of the provisions of Article 27.3(b)", "Relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity" and "Protection of traditional knowledge and folklore". The reason for this was that the Council's mandate on these issues was not based solely on paragraph 12(b) of the Doha Declaration, but also on paragraph 19 of that Declaration, as well as on the built-in agenda of the TRIPS Agreement. However, in paragraph 3 of the airgram containing the agenda it was proposed that these items, i.e. items D, E and F of the proposed agenda, should not include consideration of outstanding implementation issues relating to these matters, given the action underway in the context of the TNC on outstanding implementation issues.