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

Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
World Trade Organization
144. The updated report on technical cooperation activities relating to TRIPS (IP/C/W/590) continues to build on trends reported over the past several years. • increasing emphasis on partnerships with other intergovernmental organizations and other partners. Such enhanced coordination, programme design and delivery, supporting logistics, enhanced programme delivery and resource mobilization, leverages the impact of the resources invested in technical assistance at a time when resources have been under some pressure, and improves the relevance and impact of our activities for the recipient country partners. • An increasing demand to situate TRIPS and IP law and policy in the context of broader social and economic development and in its connection with specific policy areas such as environmental technology, or public health. • Increasing interest in supplementing the information traditionally provided about TRIPS itself and its provisions and jurisprudence, with more detailed information about the specific legal and policy choices taken by WTO Members within the framework of TRIPS. And here the notification materials assembled in this Council are a direct practical tool for technical assistance. We see increasing interest in learning directly how the broad provisions of TRIPS are applied in different ways in accordance with national needs, priorities and social and economic contexts – to borrow a concept from mainstream trade policy, a focus on what might be termed the 'applied IP regime' implemented within the framework of the rules of TRIPS as the 'bound regime'. 145. 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 deploy a wide range of expertise and policy perspectives from intergovernmental officials, national delegates, NGOs and industry experts to situate TRIPS and IP issues in a broader context, but also 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 greater capacity to analyse and work through available legal and policy options and synchronize the implementation of international standards with their own social and economic development priorities. 146. The provision of technical assistance continues to be driven by the evolving demand and requirements of developing country Members who are its primary recipients. Based on the feedback we continue to receive from these partners, these trends appear set to continue, but we shall continue to be guided by the technical cooperation needs and requirements put to us by Members, in line with the broader settings of the WTO Technical Assistance Plan. 147. Considering the management of documentation relating to technical cooperation, we note once again that formatting, translating and distributing this information does indeed entail a heavy workload and consumes considerable resources. We have heard from some informal discussions concerning technical cooperation that it can be difficult to track and monitor this information, and to correlate it against, for instance, the needs assessments filed by LDC Members, or to identify suitable programmes and resources to respond to other technical assistance needs. 148. At the same time, there is an increasing trend to use databases and similar tools to report on technical cooperation activities; the WIPO Intellectual Property Technical Assistance Database (IP-TAD) is one useful example. This trend opens up the possibility in considering reporting under Article 67 of a more systematic means of managing this information flow, without prejudice to Members' rights and obligations and existing practices for reporting. 149. Some possibilities of improving the capture, management and presentation of this information were discussed at an informal briefing held by the Secretariat on 12 September, and we will continue to consult informally with Members on the possibilities of streamlining and improving the information flow for the practical benefit of all Members, including through optional online reporting tools and a web-based platform for consulting this information. 150. The Council for TRIPS has in the past already taken note of steps taken to improve the accessibility and utility of reports on technical assistance provided to the council and to streamline this documentation process. An initial step would be to work towards some convergence of reporting formats. No specific format has been established for Members' reports on technical cooperation and there is plainly a continuing need for diversity in line with the diversity of programmes reported upon. 151. One suggested, strictly optional format to facilitate this process would be for reports to comprise (i) an introductory narrative briefly outlining in general terms highlights or trends in technical cooperation over the reporting year; and (ii) a factual annex providing brief details of specific activities in tabular or spreadsheet format (for ease of preparation, this could be an extract from an existing technical assistance reporting database so as to avoid duplication of work). The report on technical assistance prepared by the WTO Secretariat for this period (document IP/C/W/590) was prepared to illustrate this suggested approach. The benefit of such an approach would be to provide a readable summary that would set out the broad trends, of interest from a general policy perspective, while also facilitating access to specific details of individual programmes. 152. We note that some other reports prepared and submitted under this provision have adopted comparable formats, and would value the continuing feedback from Members on the benefits or drawbacks of managing this information in this way, either at the Council session itself or in more informal consultations as we work towards possible prototypes of online reporting tools and web-based information platforms to make this important information more accessible and more usable.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
11.1. The Chairman recalled that the Council had agreed, at its meeting in June 2013, to hold its annual review of technical cooperation at today's meeting. He suggested that, in this context, the Council also discuss any other issues relating to this agenda item. In preparation for this annual review, developed country Members had been once more requested to update information on their technical and financial cooperation activities relevant to the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in time for this meeting. Other Members who also made available technical cooperation had been encouraged to share information on these activities if they so wished. The Secretariat had issued on 8 August 2013 an airgram (WTO/AIR/4165) reminding Members of this request. In addition, intergovernmental organizations observers to the Council, as well as the WTO Secretariat, had been invited to provide information.

11.2. The Council had received information from the following developed country Members: Japan; New Zealand; Canada; the European Union and individual member States, namely Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom; as well as Norway; Switzerland; the United States, and Australia (document IP/C/W/593 and addenda). Updated information had been received from the following intergovernmental organizations: the WCO, OECD, WHO, UNCTAD, FAO; and WIPO (document IP/C/W/591 and addenda).

11.3. Updated information on the WTO Secretariat's own technical cooperation activities in the TRIPS area could be found in document IP/C/W/590 in French and Spanish, and in document IP/C/W/590/Rev.1 in English.

11.4. In addition, the Council had received a communication from Togo identifying its priority needs for technical and financial cooperation (document IP/C/W/597). Togo intended to introduce this document at the Council's first meeting in 2014.

11.5. The representatives of Australia, the WTO Secretariat and the WHO Secretariat took the floor under this agenda item. The statements will be reproduced in an addendum to the present record. The Chairman urged those Members that had not yet provided updated information on their technical cooperation activities to do so. He noted that some of the information had been received only very recently, and that most of it was, so far, only available in its original language. He said that it was his intention to provide Members of the Council with an opportunity at the next meeting to make further comments on the information submitted for this meeting that they might not yet have been able to study.

11.6. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.

IP/C/M/74, IP/C/M/74/Add.1