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

Ambassador Dacio Castillo (Honduras)
World Trade Organization
231. The representative of the Secretariat highlighted a number of broad themes that emerged from its report on technical cooperation activities (IP/C/W/577) that reinforced developments that had taken place over several years. The first was an increasing emphasis on partnerships with other intergovernmental organizations and other partners. This was extremely important in terms of coordination, improvement of programme design and delivery, supporting logistics, enhanced programme delivery and resource mobilization at a time when technical assistance resources were under some pressure. The second was to respond to an increasing demand to situate IP law and policy in context of the broader social and economic development or of a specific policy area such as environmental technology or public health. 232. These trends were manifest in two flagship activities that continued to be a major focus of the technical cooperation programme: the Advanced Course on IP and the Colloquium for teachers and researchers in IP. Both programmes drew from a wide range of expertise and policy perspectives from intergovernmental officials, national delegates and NGO and industry experts to situate IP issues in a broader context but also to draw on a wider range of practical experience and perspectives. In each case, the focus was on strengthening developing countries' capacity in a sustainable way so that the beneficiaries of technical cooperation had a stronger capacity to analyze and work through available legal and policy options and synchronize the implementation of international standards with their own social and economic development priorities. In light of the feedback, he expected these two trends to continue. The provision of technical assistance was driven by the evolving demand and requirements of developing country Members who were its primary recipients. 233. Turning to the management of documentation relating to technical cooperation, he said that formatting, translating and distributing it involved a heavy workload at a considerable cost. It was an open question whether Members preferred to provide and to receive the information in such a format. He drew attention to the global trade-related technical assistance database developed by the WTO Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation as a means of facilitating reporting and accessing information on technical assistance activities. This database was in the process of being updated in a revised format and would open up the possibility of Members, if they so chose, to make use of it to report the details of their technical cooperation activities. This would enable easily searchable and reportable data to be available on the whole range of technical assistance activities in the area of TRIPS while also leaving open the possibility for the kind of narrative descriptive reporting that was made available to the Council through the current documentation. This could be a useful supplement to the current process that would ease some of the documentary logjam that the Secretariat currently experienced and facilitate the flow of information in a way that would ease the burden of all three parties involved, including those involved in reporting, those involved in tracking and monitoring the reporting and following up on programmes available and finally, the Secretariat as the manager of that information. The Secretariat was available for anyone who wished to have a demonstration or, more informally, to look at that system to assess its possibilities. 234. The Symposium that had taken place the previous week was the culmination of a three-year programme developed with the guidance of the LDC Group that had involved a series of three Geneva events and three regional workshops. The emphasis throughout had been very practical in character, focusing on finding ways of better coordinating the flow of information and enabling more efficient matching of the demand side, i.e. the priority needs articulated by LDC Members, and the supply side, i.e. the technical assistance programmes made available by developed country Members and by intergovernmental organizations. Hence a particular emphasis had been on bilateral consultations, which provided an opportunity for LDC Members to go through in some detail the outstanding needs that had not been addressed and to look for ways of fulfilling those needs in a practical sense. 235. There had been several outcomes from this three-year process and from the Symposium in particular. One of them was the information resource that was currently under development as a tool for the LDC Group to address the difficulties they faced in this area. There was a large amount of reports and notified information, both on the part of LDC Members and on the part of their technical co-operation partners. But the extent of this information was so great that it could be difficult to have an overview and to understand the data in a practical sense. The information resource would cover the currently reported IP-related policy and measures in LDC Members, based on existing notifications. In particular, it would cover the currently reported programmes and resources that could be drawn on to assist LDC Members in identifying their individual priority needs, the current status of responses to the needs identified by LDCs, including projects that were currently underway and additionally the reported programmes of developed country Members and intergovernmental organization that might be relevant to the follow up and to the provision of the technical assistance responding to the needs identified by LDCs. The information resource would harvest a great deal of the detailed information that had been shared in the course of the previous week and was intended to be made available to LDC Members in a usable and accessible form. 236. In addition, the discussion on the information shared about the practicalities of undertaking a needs assessment process of mapping specific TRIPS provisions across areas of economic and social development priority, and the practical lessons learnt in the needs assessment process would be captured in a guidebook which had been under development for some time in this process again as a practical resource for LDC Members to use as they wished. 237. Furthermore, as a result of the Symposium there was interest in continuing follow up on the needs assessments that had been filed and in a number of Members also who were well advanced in the process of preparing for or actually undertaking their needs assessments. The Secretariat would continue to follow up in a more informal way to close the loop as far as possible to ensure that the available resources could be focussed on the individual priority needs identified by Members. To facilitate this, partnership with intergovernmental organization partners, most relevantly WIPO, UNCTAD and, in the public health area, WHO, but also with developed country Members, would continue to be very important. 238. He expressed his appreciation to the Government of Sweden, which had provided an important supplementary contribution to the Global Trust Fund to enable the Secretariat to finance the participation of a much wider range of capital-based officials from LDC Members than would normally have been possible for this kind of exercise and therefore had enhanced the relevance and the practical reach of the Symposium. In addition, the Government of Sweden had financed the preparation of the above-mentioned information resource. He also expressed his appreciation to the delegates and especially the LDC Group who had participated so actively and effectively in the Symposium as well as the representatives of intergovernmental organizations who had contributed to the high-quality dialogue.