197. The representative of the Secretariat said he would dispense with a detailed report on the workshop because delegations had already well covered this in detail, and would instead focus on the practicalities that arise in the management of the notification information. The workshop was intended to bring together the three active parties in the monitoring process: the developed country Members who put considerable effort into collecting, assembling and formatting the information about incentives under Article 66.2; the LDC Members to whom this information was most directly addressed and intended for their consideration; and the Secretariat which was responsible for processing and managing the flow of information. One aspect of the discussion concerned how effectively to manage that information.
198. He said that the Chair had already mentioned the practical considerations of how to deal with the continuing cost and management issues with respect to this kind of notification. This was an area where Members were investing considerable resources in the formatting, processing and translation of documentation because the information notified under this item was managed as formal TRIPS Council documents, some of which were quite extensive and the total amount of pages processed was very high. The question then was whether there could be practical steps taken to improve the collection, the management and the dissemination of this information, which really meant whether it was possible to move from documentation and a registration approach to an information management approach.
199. This would presumably involve Members agreeing if not on a common format then at least on agreed common elements in reported information. If there were movement in that direction, the Secretariat would be able to prepare a reporting tool that should facilitate the capture of information which in turn would certainly facilitate its management and enable something closer to a database approach at least for some elements of reported activities and incentive schemes. This would not preclude the inclusion of more descriptive narrative material such as has been provided in the existing TRIPS Council documents. At this stage, if there was to be a process of consultation on this matter, the Secretariat would simply draw to the attention of Members that to the degree that there could be convergence on common elements as a part of at least the reporting process, this would enable a platform to be developed that would facilitate the flow of information, its accumulation, and its analysis. Whether Members would wish to move beyond a reporting and dissemination process that was restricted to the preparation of formal Council documents or whether an alternative information management approach would be possible would obviously depend on a broader set of issues before Members. At this stage, he said, he simply wished to draw attention to that possibility and suggest that if there were to be consultations on this matter, some of these practical considerations could be taken up at that stage.
200. He said that the Secretariat welcomed any immediate observations, suggestions, or comments from Members on the way forward on this issue, bearing in mind that this was a very significant practical question and a cross-cutting matter for the entire Secretariat. Processing official documentation, translating it in the official format and disseminating it in the current manner was an area of cost, and the Secretariat had been instructed to look at it systematically. While obviously the important process of reporting and disseminating information under Article 66.2 should not be driven by cost but by the needs of the Members concerned, the suggestion was simply that in focusing on those needs the Secretariat might be able to develop alternative ways of managing information that could enable the notification process to meet those needs more effectively and more efficiently.