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

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Walter Werner
European Union

185.   The European Union and its Members take their commitments and obligations under Article 66.2 TRIPS seriously and try to deliver technology transfer programmes to least developed countries (LDCs) in a way that reacts to natural, social, health, climate and economic changes. The programmes are specifically tailored to the current needs of least LDCs and their regional organizations and concern mainly public health, environment, sustainable agriculture, watermanagement and water-sanitary systems. The programmes listed in the report are provided by the European Commission or other European institutions or the European Union Members. The main incentive for the European Union companies to voluntarily transfer technologies to LDCs is that they get funding from the European Commission or the European Union Members for these activities. The high number of programmes shows that this incentive proved to be very effective. 186.   Technology transfer refers to the ways and means through which companies, individuals and organizations acquire technology or know-how from third parties, whether such technology is IPRprotected or not. The majority of the technology transfer programmes in the report put in place new technologies, which in most cases will be managed by the local communities after the completion of the programme. Many of the technologies are not protected by patents, trade secrets or any IP right; therefore, local Governments are encouraged to replicate them in their countries, using the know-how and management and production skills acquired through these programmes. 187.   Technology transfer is often only one component of a more complex project and not a standalone activity. The acquisition by LDCs of a sound and viable technological base does not depend solely on the provision of technology or equipment, but also on acquisition of know-how, management and production skills, improved access to knowledge sources as well as on adaptation to local economic conditions. 188.   Therefore, training and education of university graduates, exchanges of qualified staff, and joint research projects must accompany the buying or licensing of IP rights related to the transferred technology. Relevant literature has proven that the mere transfer of technology without the training of local employees does not enable the recipients to achieve the internalization of the provided technology and to reduce the technology gap with developed country Members. Several projects put in place by the European Union and its Members are accordingly aimed at providing such training and education. 189.   One of the most important pre-conditions of technology transfer is the improvement of the absorption capacity of LDCs. Absorptive capacity relates to the availability of human capital and presence of technological capability and other factors, such as access to finance and infrastructure, which helps assimilate and replicate knowledge gained from external sources. Absorptive capacity is key for diffusion of any knowledge, originating domestically or abroad, and thus for determining how technology can contribute to economic transformation and "catching-up" of a country. The improvement of the absorption capacity of LDCs generates voluntary technology transfer and attracts foreign direct investment in certain sectors of the economy that are vital for sustainable development in LDCs. 190.   Policies aimed at improving absorptive capacity can help to remove some of the key bottlenecks to technology transfer, particularly in least developed countries. Inward technology diffusion to LDCs could be the primary source of technical change and productivity growth. This technology diffusion directly affects production capacities and increases consumer access to new innovative goods. This technology diffusion raises local productivity through various spillovers as domestic firms learn improved technologies and standards. The most effective strategy for LDCs to attract technology transfer is to reach out to multinational companies, initiate dialogues with them about the conditions, under which these companies would be willing to move some of their capacities to these countries and embark in further technology transfer. 191.   Absorptive capacity policies encompass a wide range of measures addressing workforce, organisational and adjustment deficiencies. Increasing the pool of trained workforce able to understand and assimilate technology, improving the quality of higher educational institutions and scientific infrastructure as well as of networks between these educational and research institutions and enterprises, and better access to finance and efficient institutions, can all have significant impact on technology absorption, thus stimulate technology transfer.

Second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership Programme (EDCTP2) 2014-2024

192.   The successful Second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership Programme continued also this year and keeps contributing to the reduction of the social and economic burden of poverty-related diseases in developing countries, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa, by accelerating the clinical development of effective, safe, accessible, suitable and affordable medical interventions for poverty-related diseases (vaccines, drugs, microbicides, diagnostics), including neglected ones, in partnership with sub-Saharan Africa. This partnership targets 32 LDC Members. The allocated budget is around 1.9 million euros. The goals are to maximize the public health impact of interventions to control malaria in pregnancy through the translation of EDCTP-funded evidence-based global policies to country level policies, improving the impact of existing Malaria Products as well as improving HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health care in high risk women, etc.


Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project

193.   Dhaka in Bangladesh has been relying heavily on groundwater as a source of water supply, but the current abstraction is beyond sustainable yields and an urgent intervention was needed. The Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project is helping to provide reliable and improved water supply in Dhaka by developing a new surface water supply scheme for supply augmentation. This will include the development of a water intake at Meghna River, a raw water transmission pipeline, a water treatment plant at Gandharbpur with capacity of 500 million litres per day, a treated water transmission pipeline to the existing water supply network and distribution reinforcements. The project will also improve distribution networks to reduce nonrevenue water (NRW) and will improve the quality of water supply services, including support to low-income communities. The project will help provide sustainable water supply to a growing population in service areas - including improved access, convenience, and reliability of water supply, as well as increased quantities of water and improved water quality. Other indirect benefits arise from the employment of skilled and semiskilled workers in the construction works. The project will last until 2020 and the Commission's contribution is EUR 5.2 million, but also the European Investment Bank contributed around EUR 130 million. 194.   The project will support organizing community based organizations in order to make sure that the transferred technology is used by the local communities of Dhaka. Households in lowincome communities, including those headed by women, will have access to water supply through new water connections.

FRESAN – Strengthening Resilience and Food and Nutrition Security in Angola

195.   South Angola's population have been suffering from the impact of climate change, which increases their vulnerability and affects their livelihoods. This programme aims to contribute to the reduction of hunger, poverty and vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity, in the provinces of Angola most affected by climate change, namely Cunene, Huila and Namibe. 196.   The programme has four distinct but complementary components: 197.   Component 1 is to strengthen resilience and production of smallholder farming in the context of climate change through adoption and use of technologies, practices and innovative solutions to reduce vulnerability. 198.   Component 2 is to improve households' food and nutrition security, increasing consumption and availability of more diversified and nutritious food. 199.   Component 3 is to enhance institutional capacity and mechanisms for multi-sector food and nutrition security information management and data analysis, planning, coordination, monitoring, and reaction in areas of food insecurity, malnutrition and climate change. Prediction and earlywarning systems and monitoring tools for risk management will be developed to cope with climate-induced crisis and the occurrence of natural disasters. 200.   Component 4 is to find evidences and knowledge on the utility of different nutrition-sensitive actions that are effective, in the context of Angola, to curb undernutrition in children and reduce under-five mortality. It will also encourage scientific and technical knowledge transfer and exchange of experiences in the three target regions of Angola. 201.   The European Union's contribution is EUR 68 million and the project started in 2018 and will last until 2022.

SafeWaterAfrica project

202.   SafeWaterAfrica Project already started in 2016 but continued also this year and will continue until 2022. The key objective of the project is to improve access to clean water in Africa through research and development of an autonomous and decentralized water treatment system for rural and peri-urban areas. The project will develop new types of autonomous low-cost and solar powered water sanitation systems tailored for the specific needs in the rural areas of Mozambique and operated independently by local communities. Access to safe water through this project will reduce health risks. The total requested EC contribution is slightly less than EUR 3 million.

VicInAqua project

203.   VicInAqua Project aims at integrated aquaculture based on sustainable water recirculating system for the Victoria Lake Basin, which would mainly benefit Uganda. The project is developing a sustainable combined sanitation and recirculating aquaculture system for wastewater treatment and reuse in agriculture in the Victoria Lake Basin area. VicInAqua project follows an integrated approach in order to develop a sustainable aquaculture fish pond system and simplified recirculation aquaculture systems combined with a domestic sanitation system and agriculture activities for the Victoria Lake Basin. 204.   The project is developing a novel and robust membrane bioreactor (MBR) system for a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), fish ponds and sanitation. Moreover, this will contribute to the development of a sustainable energy supply system based on photovoltaics and biogas (generated from the sludge of the recirculating aquaculture system) which will be integrated to the system for autonomous operation.

Rift Volcanism: Past, Present, Future – United Kingdom

205.  Rift Volcanism Programme, is a research and technology programme which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of the United Kingdom. The programme's results will be used to integrate volcanic hazard and risk into policies for long-term planning and shortterm emergency management, mostly in Ethiopia. A contribution to this is the real-time connection of seismic stations to the responsible local institution to facilitate early warning of volcanic unrest and eruptions. 206.   The programme will focus on the volcanoes of the Main Ethiopian Rift in central Ethiopia. The aim is to understand their past behaviour, look for subtle signs of present-day activity and assess the threat posed to the infrastructure and people on and around them. RiftVolc will involve scientists from many disciplines working together to produce an integrated view of the past, present and future of the volcanoes in this region and compare it to other parts of East Africa and volcanoes elsewhere. Experts in hazard assessment will model possible scenarios and create a long-range eruption forecast for Ethiopia.


207.   This overview could only give a couple of examples of the many technology transfer projects and incentives that the European Union and its Members have put into place. The European Commission remains committed to work with LDCs and to finance technology transfer programmes and if LDCs have questions and suggestions, we are ready to provide replies.

The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
37.   The Chair recalled that under the TRIPS Council decision of February 2003, developed country Members were to submit annual reports on actions taken or planned in pursuance of their commitments under Article 66.2. They were to provide new detailed reports every third year and updates in the intervening years. In June 2018, the Council had requested developed country Members to submit the sixth set of new reports in time for the present meeting, and the Secretariat had since circulated a reminder.
38.   The Council had received new detailed reports from the United States of America, Switzerland, Australia, Japan and Canada. Since the circulation of the revised agenda, Norway had also submitted its new report. This documentation had been circulated in document IP/C/W/646 and addenda. In addition, shortly before the meeting, the Council had received the reports from New Zealand, as well as from the European Union and some of its member States, namely Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Advance copies of both reports had been made available as room documents on documents online and would also be circulated as addenda to document IP/C/W/646.
39.   Paragraph 2 of the Council's Decision on the Implementation of Article 66.2 explained that the annual review was to provide Members with an opportunity to pose questions in relation to the information submitted and request additional information; discuss the effectiveness of the incentives provided in promoting and encouraging technology transfer to least developed country Members in order to enable them to create a sound and viable technological base; and consider any points relating to the operation of the reporting procedure established by the Decision.
40.   Some of the information by developed country Members had been received only very recently, and most of it is, so far, available only in its original language. Members would have an opportunity to make further comments at the next meeting of the Council. This would allow Members to study the information recently circulated and any additional information subsequently received. For the same reasons, the Article 66.2 Workshop that would had been held before that meeting had been postponed. The plan was to convene the Workshop on 11-12 February 2019, backto-back with the Council's next meeting in February 2019.
41.   The Chair informed Members that, the day before, there had been an informal small group meeting and ideas had been exchanged with regard to the organization of the forthcoming Article 66.2 Workshop.
42.   The representatives of the European Union; Canada; Japan; Australia; the United States of America; Norway; the Central African Republic, on behalf of the LDC Group; and Cambodia took the floor.
43.   The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/90, IP/C/M/90/Add.1