Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Karen Tan (Singapore)
World Trade Organization
136. The representative of the Secretariat said that, as he had already mentioned at the Council's last meeting in introducing the background note IP/C/W/543, the Secretariat was exploring how to improve the transparency and user-friendliness of the notification system, for example by making notifications more easily accessible on the WTO webpage and in particular by establishing practical ways to make it easier for Members to prepare and submit their notifications. He stressed that these steps were purely practical and technical in character, operating entirely within the existing framework agreed by the Council and in line with the requirements of the TRIPS Agreement itself. The objective was to find practical ways to make the existing framework that had been used by over 120 Members in the course of nearly 15 years work increasingly user-friendly. 137. Accordingly, the Secretariat had been working on making notifications and related information resources more easily available to Members by reorganizing the relevant pages on the WTO website. As already foreshadowed in the background note, the Secretariat had continued its preparation on a transparency toolkit page that would provide a single access point for various notifications and other various reports from Members, as well as to related formats, guidelines and background materials. 138. Article 63.2 of the TRIPS Agreement itself already recognized that steps should be taken to reduce the burden of notification procedures on Members, including in cooperation with WIPO. Within its existing cooperation arrangement with WIPO, the Secretariat was looking at how to make better use of advances in technology to reduce delays, to facilitate the flow of information, to provide this information in a timely and practically useable fashion and to reduce the administrative burden on Members when preparing and lodging notifications. He stressed that any practical steps that might be taken to improve the management of the vast quantity of information would be undertaken within the existing framework of the TRIPS Agreement and the decisions already taken, as well as with the Secretariat's long-standing cooperation arrangements with WIPO. The fact that WIPO was currently overhauling its own legislative database made it especially timely to explore ways of improving this linkage and thus reducing the burden on users of the system and on WTO Members in particular. 139. He stressed that the aforementioned improvements, particularly in the way notifications could be accessed electronically, were purely intended to improve the accessibility of information provided under the existing notification requirements, and would not entail any change to the legal status to notified materials, nor to the obligations or entitlements of Members. 140. Since this was still work in progress, he said that he would be happy to brief the Council again at its forthcoming meetings of any further developments and improvements that the Secretariat had been able to introduce into the system. In the meantime, the Secretariat was building this element into its technical assistance activities, including in cooperation with WIPO, to ensure that Members could make best use of the system while significantly reducing its administrative demands.