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

Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
180. First of all I would like to thank the Secretariat for the very comprehensive presentation clarifying important aspects necessary to the operationalisation of Article 31bis. This is the first session following the meeting held in January regarding the entry into force of the Protocol. On that occasion, Brazil suggested three areas which the Organization could assist Members with activities and technical assistance related to the Protocol. In our view, the WTO and Members should work together towards full implementation, fulfilling expectations of society and stakeholders regarding the benefits of the multilateral trading system. We are confident that the expertise of the Organization would prove valuable to that task. 181. Regarding the Protocol itself, I would like to draw attention to the necessity of the extension or elimination of the deadline for acceptance of the Protocol currently limited to December 2017. The next session of this Council could initiate a discussion of the matter, in order to recommend a decision to the Ministerial Conference.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
51. The Chairman recalled that, at its meeting in November, the Council had taken up its annual review of technical cooperation. Given that some information from Members and intergovernmental organizations had been made available only a short time before the review, the Chairman had indicated that Members would be offered a further opportunity to make comments on that material at this meeting.

52. Reverting to the discussions that had taken place at the Council's additional meeting on 30 January, 2017, he recalled that the meeting had been especially convened in order to take note of the entry into force of the TRIPS amendment which made the special compulsory licensing mechanism to export medicines a permanent part of the Agreement.

53. At that meeting, the Chairman, Ambassador Mero, had looked at the way ahead. In particular, he had noted that it was now important "to look into how to make this new procurement tool work effectively so that it delivers concrete results in practice." He had also referred delegations to the Council's report on the annual review of the System that was circulated in IP/C/76, as well as to Annex II to the WTO Secretariat's annual report on its technical cooperation activities circulated in document IP/C/W/618. He had noted that both documents provided useful information resources for future considerations.

54. The Chairman's call for further work to fully exploit the potential of the System to deliver affordable medicines to countries in need had been echoed by Director-General Azevêdo in his address to this Council, as well as by a number of delegations who had said that they stood ready to support such efforts. Furthermore, some Members had already made certain suggestions at that meeting regarding possible actions that could be undertaken in this regard.

55. These included the provision of legislative and other assistance to countries that were looking into implementing the System in their domestic laws. In this regard, he drew Members' attention to a Staff Working Paper on Special Compulsory Licences for Export of Medicines: Key Features of WTO Members' Implementing Legislation that was released in July 2015. While the paper would benefit from an update, it provided a useful survey of the key features of the System as they had been addressed by implementing measures adopted by more than 50 WTO Members. It was available on the WTO's webpage dedicated to TRIPS and public health, in the section on Implementing Compulsory Licences for Export of Medicines. 1 In case of interest, the Secretariat could also make the link to the document available. 2

56. He indicated that, under agenda item 2, he had already urged Members in general to submit initial notifications and regularly update legislative measures that had been notified. In this context, he particularly encouraged Members to notify changes made to their laws or regulations to implement Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement. Apart from being a specific TRIPS obligation, this would help other Members who were looking into implementing the System in their domestic laws.

57. Other suggestions that had been made at the meeting in January included the sharing of experiences among Members regarding the implementation and use of the System, as well as the establishment of a mechanism that would serve to effectively coordinate the technical assistance provided by international organisations. And the need to raise awareness among officials from IP offices and procurement agencies on the ground about how to use the System in their day-to-day operations had also been emphasized. While this meeting and this agenda item might not be the place to address these suggestions in a detailed manner, he said that they could be usefully considered as part of the preparations for the Council's annual review of the System at its last meeting in October. The Secretariat would take due account of these suggestions in its forthcoming capacity building activities on which it would report to the Council at that meeting.

58. He then took up a proposal that had been made by the Ambassador of Brazil at the Council's meeting in January with respect to possible awareness raising activities. Specifically, he had asked for a presentation by the WTO Secretariat at this meeting on how to notify under the System.

59. The Chairman suggested that the Secretariat be given an opportunity to provide an overview of the notification requirements as they apply to the use of the System.

60. The representative of the Secretariat took the floor.

61. The representative of Brazil took the floor.

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

IP/C/M/85, IP/C/M/85/Add.1