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

Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
276. Argentina is grateful to Brazil for including this item in the agenda as it provides an opportunity to continue discussions on this important issue. Progress in technology and communications makes electronic commerce increasingly important for all countries. Argentina is not immune to this phenomenon. Our country attaches great importance to this issue, having played an active role, in MERCOSUR in particular, in putting forward proposals and measures to promote the development of electronic commerce in the region. 277. Document JOB/IP/19 identifies three areas of possible convergence concerning copyright in a digital environment: transparency of payment for copyright and related rights; balance of rights and obligations; and territoriality of copyright. Argentina shares the views expressed by Brazil in this document and has asked to be included as a co sponsor. 278. Document JOB/IP/20, co sponsored by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, introduces a pertinent question in relation to the discussions on the work programme on electronic commerce, namely electronic signatures. Argentina was one of the first countries in the region to adopt national standards on electronic signatures and protection of personal data. Digital signatures are governed by Law No. 25.506, approved and enacted in 2001. The Law determines various concepts, differentiating between digital signatures and electronic signatures. A digital signature is comparable to a handwritten signature as a result of the use of digital certificates, which contain data identifying the owner of the signature. Digital certificates, issued by registered certifiers authorized for this purpose, enable a third party to establish the authenticity of a signatory and detect any alterations to electronic documents signed digitally. By circulating Resolution GMC 37/06, which deals with the question of digital signatures within MERCOSUR, we hope to contribute towards the discussions on this issue. 279. Lastly, we should like to emphasize that, being a member of the Group of Friends for E Commerce for Development, Argentina is ready to make a constructive contribution in order to move ahead on this issue.
The Council took note of the statements made.
69. The Chairman informed the Council that, to prepare the discussion under this item, Brazil had submitted a communication on Electronic Commerce and Copyright (document JOB/IP/19) which had been co-sponsored by Argentina. He suggested that Brazil introduce the agenda item and discuss the issues that it was proposing for consideration, and that the Council then turn to three other submissions related to the Work Programme on E-Commerce which the respective co-sponsors might wish to introduce.

70. He recalled the most recent mandate in the field of e-commerce and the state of play of the work. At MC10 in December 2015, Ministers had decided to "continue the work under the Work Programme based on the existing mandate and guidelines and on the basis of proposals submitted by Members in the relevant WTO bodies". They had also instructed the General Council to hold periodic reviews "based on the reports that may be submitted by the WTO bodies entrusted with the implementation of the Work Programme and report to the next session of the Ministerial Conference" (document WT/MIN(15)/42 – WT/L/977).

71. In June 2017, the TRIPS Council had resumed discussions on e-commerce. This discussion had been based on Canada's written submission circulated in document IP/C/W/613. Canada had shared its national experience to fight the selling of counterfeit products over the internet. At the Council's meeting in November 2016, Canada had called for a continuation of the sharing of national experiences and practices as this would support the Council to respond to the Ministerial mandate. In line with the addendum to its earlier communication (document IP/C/W/613/Add.1) Canada had also said that it wished to consult with other delegations on how to advance the Work Programme on E-Commerce in this Council. It had been joined by a number of other delegations.

72. The Chairman also referred to three other communications under this item: a communication on Electronic Signatures that had been co-sponsored by the delegations of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay (document JOB/IP/20); a communication on Trade Policy, the WTO and the Digital Economy that had been circulated at the request of the delegations of Canada; Chile; Colombia; Côte d'Ivoire; the European Union; the Republic of Korea; Mexico; Montenegro; Paraguay; Singapore and Turkey (JOB/IP/21 of 13 January 2017); and a communication on Electronic Commerce and Development, recently circulated in document JOB/IP/22 at the request of the delegations of Brunei Darussalam; Colombia; Costa Rica; Hong Kong, China; Israel; Malaysia; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Panama; Qatar; Seychelles; Singapore and Turkey.

73. The representatives of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group, Switzerland, the United States, Norway, the European Union, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Canada, the Republic of Moldova, Mexico, Australia, Turkey, Colombia, the Russian Federation, Chile, the Republic of Korea, India and New Zealand took the floor.

74. The Chairman said that, in light of the discussions and the earlier exchange of views at the Council's meetings in June and November 2016, there seemed to be a continuing interest of delegations in discussing issues related to intellectual property and e-commerce. He therefore encouraged Members to consider how to carry forward issues related to e-commerce in the TRIPS Council. An in-depth debate would, indeed, constitute a sound basis for the Council to contribute to the periodic review that the General Council had been requested to hold, as well as to provide input for the General Council report to the next Ministerial Conference. Such a discussion would be an opportunity to create a clear and inclusive factual picture of the current state of affairs as the foundation for informed dialogue between Members.

75. The Council took note of the statements made.

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