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

Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
285. We have studied the national and regional experiences and practices contained in the different submissions with great interest. We consider each of the topics treated as relevant in the context of international trade, and thank the delegations and co-sponsors for their communications. 286. I am going to comment in particular on the three Communications on E-Commerce and Copyright (JOB/IP/19), E-Commerce and Electronic Signatures (JOB/IP/20), as well as on E Commerce and Development (JOB/IP/22). 287. On E-Commerce and Copyright: We recall that the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) has already taken up specific questions related to copyright, the applicable law and the lex fori. Obviously, duplication of the discussion in the WIPO, vis-à-vis more trade-related aspects here in the WTO, needs to be avoided. It has become clear that the topics addressed in JOB/IP/19 are quite complex and broad, considering the wide array of different national approaches and conflict-of-law regimes. From a regional perspective, for Switzerland and most European countries the Lugano or the Brussels Convention on the jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of 1988 apply in this context. We will follow the discussions in the WIPO and also here in this Council closely and with interest. 288. On E-commerce and Electronic Signatures: Switzerland has a new federal law on certification services in electronic signatures and other digital certificates that has come into force this year, on 1 January 2017. The new law assigns, under certain conditions, equal status to the electronic signature and a handwritten signature. To promote digital trade in Switzerland, the legislator allows Certification Service Providers to be recognized by an accredited federal government agency. The Certification Service Providers verify electronic data and issue digital certificates. There are a number of other aspects to our national regime and some may be relevant in the wider IP context. Our delegation is interested to hear about other regimes, and about how they may interlink with aspects of intellectual property and the work of the TRIPS Council. 289. It is also with particular interest that we have studied communication JOB/IP/22 on E Commerce and Development, which outlines the potential that e-commerce may offer for MSMEs in middle and low-income countries. In the past, the TRIPS Council in its discussion on IP and Innovation already touched on a number of aspects which have been raised in the present communication, e.g. the potential that mobile apps bear, and the opportunity which e-commerce tools presents for small business operators to more easily enter the market at low cost. 290. Switzerland agrees that the topic of e-commerce is relevant for MSMEs in particular. The WTO and the TRIPS Council should take into account this interest of MSMEs. It is noteworthy that MSMEs are the backbone of any economy, also of the Swiss economy. Our delegation stands ready to enter into more substantive discussion and to further explore related aspects at the intersection of IP and digital trade. Aspects which the TRIPS Council deems to be important and which lie within its mandate.
JOB/IP/19; JOB/IP/20; JOB/IP/22
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