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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter (South Africa)
761.   My delegation would like to associate with the statements made by Chad and Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group and would like to add my intervention as follows: 762.   Least developed countries represent the poorest and weakest segment of the international community and continue to confront structural and developmental constraints and challenges related to economic growth, human and institutional capacities and economic vulnerabilities. The unique development situation of LDCs is reflected in their 0.96% share of the world's merchandise exports and 0.71% share of the world's commercial service exports, while they need to feed and care for about 13% of the world's population, with a special responsibility for 31% of the world's poor. 763.   LDCs continue to face numerous difficulties in reaching their development goals, as well as in the effective implementation of global commitments such as the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. 764.   The high degree of vulnerability from which least developed countries suffer, both economic and climate shocks, has caused significant setbacks to their progress towards the achievement of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 765.   The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges that LDCs have already been facing, as the pandemic threatens to have devastating consequences for their socio-economic transformation. Our health systems are unable to cope with increasing numbers of infected people, and the economic recovery will be another uphill challenge. 766.   In this context, without meaningful support and bold policy actions from the international community, achieving the SDGs by the 2030 deadline will likely be out of reach. It is evident that the pandemic will have far-reaching implications for the global economy and especially for LDCs, including those on the path to graduation. 767.   LDCs' exports are expected to be severely affected. Primary commodities prices are in decline, supply chains disrupted, and the tourism industry is largely at a standstill. LDCs are not able to adapt the latest technology to revive their productivity growth, especially in the present era of the digital economy. 768.   E-commerce has emerged rapidly in recent times and the pandemic has further accelerated its growth. However, there is a huge digital gap between advanced, developing and least developed countries. The huge digital divide between and within countries, particularly LDCs, has become an obstacle to reaping benefits from e-commerce and the digital economy. LDCs lag significantly far behind in science, technology and innovation. 769.   In this context, implementing TRIPS provisions will be much beyond the capacity of LDCs. Therefore, we need a continuing exemption from the TRIPS Agreement in order to be able to grow economically viable industrial and technological sectors; to consolidate capacity; and to work out ways to connect and gain from the technological value chain. Sufficient policy space becomes inevitable to overcome the difficulties faced by LDCs in this pandemic situation. Furthermore, access to various technologies, educational resources, and other tools are equally necessary for development and to curb the spread of the pandemic. 770.   Essentially the provision laid down in Article 66.1 acknowledges that the TRIPS Agreement may not be conducive to the social and economic circumstances of LDCs and that LDCs need to have policy space and flexibility in order to address their development challenges and to create a viable technological base. Therefore, the transition period should remain in force for as long as a country remains a least developed country. 771.   Similarly, sustainable and smooth graduation is a challenge for LDCs. The challenges of the post-graduation period are a continuation of the challenges of the pre-graduation period; therefore, it is required that LDC-specific flexibilities continue to apply after graduation, and be phased out progressively. 772.   Hence, all LDCs, including graduating LDCs, would need a further extension of the transition period with maximum flexibility. Furthermore, this extension would not restrict any LDC Member to undertake an early implementation of the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in view of their country's unique context. 773.   Additionally, enriched technology transfer from developed country Members to LDCs under TRIPS Article 66.2 and other support measures, including those reflected in Article 67 of the Agreement, would highly support LDCs in effectively implementing the TRIPS Agreement. 774.   In this context, the LDC Group has submitted a duly motivated request for extension of the transition period and my delegation would like to call upon all Members to extend your valuable support and accord extensions as per our submission.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
78. The Chair said that the agenda item had been requested by Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group; and a communication had been circulated. She recalled that the transition period for LDC Members had been extended twice: Most recently, by the TRIPS Council Decision of 11 June 2013. Regarding extensions of the transition period, the second sentence of Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement provided that "The Council for TRIPS shall, upon duly motivated request by a least developed country Member, accord extensions of this period." She invited the LDC Group to introduce the request.
79. The representative of Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group took the floor.
80. The Chair invited Members to take the floor.
81. The representatives of Bangladesh; Bangladesh, on behalf of the LDC Group, Nepal; Mali; Cambodia; Angola; Afghanistan; Senegal; Jamaica, on behalf of the ACP Group; China; South Africa; Argentina; Egypt; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; Indonesia; Turkey; the United States of America; the European Union; Oman; India; Japan; Nigeria; the United Kingdom; Switzerland; and the World Health Organization (WHO) took the floor.
82. The Chair proposed that the LDC Group consult with the Members, that had intervened at the present meeting, to bridge the differences. She would also be available to consult with Members. Considering the time-sensitivity due to the upcoming deadline in 2021, she proposed to revert to the request at the next meeting.
83. 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