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

Ambassador Al-Otaibi (Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia) and Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
94. India attaches high importance to the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, the Paragraph 6 System as established under the 2003 Decision and the 2005 Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement. 95. India notified its acceptance of the Protocol in March 2007. We would like to congratulate Members who have deposited their Instrument of Acceptance of the Protocol since the last TRIPS meeting held in June 2015. However, in spite of the fourth extension of the period of acceptance until 31 December 2015, only 60 Members including the EU have accepted the Protocol so far. The fact that it is still a long way to go for it to enter into force and that acceptance by two thirds of the membership is required is not a positive signal. 96. While we reiterate the concern that the Paragraph 6 System was only used once so far and the System is too complex and administratively unwieldy for further use, we have always been of the view that the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health constituted a major landmark in the short history of the WTO, because it recognised the primacy of public health needs and the preparedness of the Organization to take up the problems faced by the poor and developing countries. 97. Along with several other Members, India has worked relentlessly on the Doha Declaration and the Decision. The Decision established the framework for special compulsory licences which is an additional flexibility aimed at enabling exports of medicines to WTO Members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector. 98. The TRIPS Council has been reviewing the Paragraph 6 mechanism for the last several years. Our delegation feels that the review mechanism has become ritualistic in nature and it will not serve any purpose if we go on repeating the similar questions and get similar replies. The implementation of the Paragraph 6 mechanism involves several stakeholders and our discussions would not be effective if we restrict the discussion to this level. 99. At the TRIPS Council meeting in October 2014, we have also proposed a multi-stakeholder symposium. I proposed it again during yesterday's informal meeting, and the membership accepted in principle and asked me to provide more information on this suggestion. I am providing more information now. 100. Discussion in the symposium with relevant stakeholders including international organisations, public health experts, industry experts, civil society organisations and WTO Members would be extremely useful to explore the issue in depth. The symposium could discuss the implementation of the Paragraph 6 System so far, the challenges and opportunities involved as well as ways of improving the System to make it effective and meaningful. In this regard India proposes that a technical symposium be held in March 2016 under the trilateral cooperation of WHO, WIPO and WTO. The symposium could be aimed to increase our understanding of the System, the challenges in its implementation so far and suggestions on the way forward. It would be an experience sharing and exploratory basis with various views on the System being discussed and debated. We request that the Council for TRIPS agree to hold this technical symposium and direct the Secretariat to draw the broad contours of the symposium based on the suggestions of various Members. 101. It is also requested that the Chair continues to hold informal consultations with interested Members in this regard in the coming months. 102. With regard to the proposal for the extension of the period for acceptance of the Protocol for a further period of two years up to 31 of December 2017, we support the proposal. I conclude by encouraging Members who are yet to accept the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement to accept the Protocol and notify their acceptance on a priority basis.
The Council took note of the statements made.
7.1. The Chairman recalled that paragraph 8 of the waiver Decision provided that the Council for TRIPS shall review annually the functioning of the system set out in the Decision with a view to ensuring its effective operation and shall annually report on its operation to the General Council. Furthermore, the paragraph provided that this review shall be deemed to fulfil the review requirements of Article IX:4 of the WTO Agreement.

7.2. He said that the records of the Council's earlier reviews continued to provide a unique and valuable resource for understanding this important measure. This included the records of the reviews in 2010 and 2011 when the Council had held a more structured debate on the basis of lists of topics for the discussion that had been agreed in advance. These earlier records and lists of topics might also inform discussions at the present review. If Members felt that any questions posed at earlier reviews regarding the Paragraph 6 System itself or possible alternatives to it were not adequately addressed at those reviews, they should feel free to revert to any such questions.

7.3. The Secretariat had prepared a draft cover note for the Council's report modelled on previous years' reports (circulated as JOB/IP/13). He suggested that the Council take up the preparation of its report to the General Council after it had exhausted its discussion. The cover note of the report contained a list of Members that had notified their acceptance of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement (WT/L/641). The following Members had deposited their instruments of acceptance since the Council's last meeting in June: Moldova on 7 July, Kenya on 21 July, Saint Kitts and Nevis on 27 July, Sri Lanka on 9 September, Lao People's Democratic Republic on 29 September, and Iceland on 12 October.

7.4. The Chairman further recalled that the Protocol had been originally open for acceptance by Members until 1 December 2007. Upon proposals by the Council for TRIPS, the General Council had four times extended this period for further two-year periods. At present, the period ran until 31 December 2015. The TRIPS amendment would enter into force once two thirds of the membership had accepted it. For this to happen, another 21 instruments of acceptance needed to be deposited with the Director-General. He strongly encouraged those Members, especially developing country Members, who were yet to complete their domestic procedures to do as soon as possible. If needed, the Secretariat could assist Members concerned regarding the steps that were required in order to accept the Protocol.

7.5. The representative of the WTO Secretariat took the floor.

7.6. The Chairman noted that the vast majority of Members that had already deposited their instrument of acceptance had done so before adopting implementing legislation, if at all, which was not required by the amendment.

7.7. He reported that, at the informal meeting on 14 October 2015, some delegations had reiterated the proposal that a workshop open to all stakeholders be jointly organized by the WTO, WHO and WIPO as part of their trilateral cooperation. While other delegations had indicated their readiness, in principle, to consider such a proposal, they had asked for more information regarding the issues to be covered by such a workshop. He encouraged the proponents to explore the proposal in their direct contacts with other delegations.

7.8. The representatives of Canada, India, Australia, Cuba, Chinese Taipei, Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Chile, the European Union, New Zealand, Ecuador, Switzerland, Japan, the United States, Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group, South Africa, and Uganda took the floor.

7.9. The Council took note of the statements made.

7.10. Turning to the draft cover note for the Council's report (circulated as JOB/IP/13), the Chairman said that, in accordance with the way that the Council had prepared its reports in the previous years, the part of the minutes of the meeting that reflected the discussions held under this agenda item might be attached to the cover note. He also suggested that the report be updated in order to take account of the instruments of acceptance that had been deposited since the circulation of the initial draft report.

7.11. He said that the Protocol had originally been open for acceptance by Members until 1 December 2007. At present, the period ended on 31 December 2015. Given the proximity of this date, the Council might wish to consider again submitting a proposal to the General Council for a decision to extend the period for the acceptance of the Protocol. For this purpose, a draft decision that could be submitted to the General Council for adoption had been included in Annex 2 to the draft report. As the draft proposal for a decision by the General Council did not yet contain a new deadline for the extended period for acceptances, he suggested that the Council propose to extend the period by a further two years until 31 December 2017.

7.12. In conclusion, the Chairman proposed that the Council agree on forwarding to the General Council the proposal for a decision to extend the period of acceptance by Members of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement until 31 December 2017. The last paragraph of the draft decision by the General Council contained in Annex 2 to the draft report should be complemented by inserting this date. He also proposed that the Council agree on the cover note to the report contained in JOB/IP/13, with the update concerning the instruments of acceptance that had been deposited by Sri Lanka, Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Iceland since the circulation of the draft cover note, and also that the Council minutes containing the record of the discussion be attached to it.

7.13. The Council so agreed.

IP/C/M/80, IP/C/M/80/Add.1