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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter (South Africa)
World Trade Organization
495.   My warm thanks to our colleague, the delegate of Chad, for two very pertinent questions which are very much in that spirit of adapting our tools to respond to the needs of Members. 496.   On the first point, I acknowledge that for those of us working in Geneva we tend to take digital access for granted. The World Wide Web was invented just seven kilometres away in CERN and we are very conscious of the need not to assume that is a privilege enjoyed by all the digital divide remains a significant concern. 497.   So, in itself, our TRIPS technical assistance and our work with the TRIPS Agreement cannot address the digital divide in isolation, of course, but this is a theme that we would like to take up in the next workshop for LDCs on TRIPS Article 66.2 in early 2021 to look at practical considerations for access to this information for those with the limited access to the Internet. This is an important practical question and it is part of the better process that I mentioned of adapting and developing the platform, so that it is truly accessible. Hence, I would not pre-empt specific proposals or technical responses but it is clearly an important practical matter that we will address in our work. 498.   At the same time, we also have had the privilege of sitting with quite a number of delegations from across the development spectrum, to give one-on-one training or familiarity briefings on the use of the platform for those delegates who are based in Geneva for those who visit. It can be very helpful to sit down together and go through it in a very practical way to take advice. A lot of the functionality and the benefits of the system as it is now (and it is still not complete) is a direct result of that valuable insight from Members right across the spectrum. Thus we would certainly hope that this input and guidance continue. 499.   On the second point concerning trilateral cooperation, I would not mention also the cooperation in the field of public health does go beyond that arrangement, but that is the focus. We would hope that among the benefits flowing from trilateral cooperation is that it really does establish a norm of cooperation in this critical area beyond our comfortable silos or areas of particular expertise and competence. One of the practical difficulties that I think every Member government has encountered is the inevitable challenge in coordinating across different agencies, with different mandates, with different core competences. The essence of our work on public health, trade and intellectual property is to develop ways of coordinating and working in an integrated holistic way with the different agencies involved. 500.   That said, when it comes to public health, from a trilateral point of view we take the leadership of the WHO as the experts on public health matters and we offer our contributions on TRIPS and on trade policy matters, just as WIPO contributes on intellectual property and related matters. Therefore, for all of our activity - a good example of this could be the workshop on trade and health, which we can hold every year – it is deliberately targeted at representatives of these different policy communities: public health officials, trade officials and intellectual property officials. A lot of the positive feedback we get from participants is exactly that they are able to work together and develop a common dialogue, a common lexicon with those who have been working in other specialized areas. So, it is not merely about passing on technical knowledge about the specifics of this or that agreement or this or that policy framework, but also about building the tools for dialogue across the areas of expertise. That is really at the very heart of our programmes, both the trilateral work at the international level, but also the policy support we have tried to give to Member governments. 501.   The activities that have been referred to are deliberately planned and structured and invited indeed to build up that kind of compensation between areas of expertise. Each specific area of expertise is incredibly important, but it is rarely sufficient in itself and so building that into great holistic approach is at the core of this programme. As delegates will see, I can talk about this all night, but I think we might have remaining work ahead, so I thank you for your patience.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
64. The Chair recalled that, at its July 2020 meeting, the Council had agreed to hold the annual review of technical cooperation at its next meeting. Thus, developed country Members had been requested to update information on their technical and financial cooperation activities relevant to the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement. Other Members, which also provided technical cooperation were encouraged to share information on their activities. The Secretariat had issued a reminder. Intergovernmental organizations, observers to the Council and the WTO Secretariat had also been invited to provide information.
65. The Council had received information from: Japan, Switzerland, Australia, United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway. Since the circulation of the revised agenda, the Council had received further information from the European Union. These reports were being circulated under the new dedicated document series with the symbol IP/C/R/TC/[Member]/1 – where "R" stands for "Reports" and "TC" stands for "Technical Cooperation". The following intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) had also submitted updated information: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). Their reports were being circulated in the same document series IP/C/R/TC/[IGO observer]/1. Information on the WTO Secretariat's own technical cooperation activities in the TRIPS area could be found in document . She invited Members to introduce their reports.
66. The representatives of the United States of America; the United Kingdom; Japan; Australia; Canada; the European Union; Bangladesh; Switzerland; Brazil; Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group; Mali; and South Africa took the floor.
67. The Chair invited the WTO Secretariat to present its report on technical cooperation activities.
68. The representative of the Secretariat took the floor.
69. The Chair invited the representatives of IGO observers to present their reports on technical cooperation activities.
70. The representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); World Health Organization (WHO); and the United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) took the floor.
71. The Chair invited Members to comment.
72. The representatives of Sri Lanka; Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group; and India took the floor.
73. The Chair thanked Members and IGO observers for the valuable information. As some information had been recently submitted and was available only in its original language, she would provide Members an opportunity to make further comments, at the next meeting.
74. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/96, IP/C/M/96/Add.1