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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
456.   We would like to thank you for the update on the consultations that were held with the LDCs. We also thank Chad and Bangladesh for the presentations that were made, further explaining the rationale for the extended transition periods, envisaged under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement, for LDC Members. South Africa in the past has indicated that it unequivocally supports the request by the LDC Group under Article 66.1, for as long as they remain LDCs and for an additional 12-year period following their official graduation from the LDC category as determined by the United Nations General Assembly. 457.   Article 66.1 recognizes LDCs' special needs and requirements, the economic, financial and administrative constraints faced by LDCs, and the need for flexibility to create a sound and viable technological base. An estimated 1.06 billion people live in the world's 47 LDCs and by 2030 over 15% of humanity will be living in them. Despite their large demographic weight, LDCs account for less than 1.5% of the global GDP, and as rightly pointed out by the distinguished delegate from Bangladesh, around 1% of world trade. 458.   It is in this light that we have to consider the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and this hinges on the international community's commitment to leave no one behind. Even before the current COVID-19 crisis, there were signs that many LDCs would neither meet the ambitious SDG targets nor achieve their own national development plans. 459.   The adverse economic impact of the present COVID-19 crisis has severely affected the progress of growth and development of LDCs, which is also likely to delay or extend our graduation processes of several LDCs. The combination of the health, human, economic and social aspects of the present crisis dramatically highlights the vulnerability of LDC economies to shocks beyond their control. They will result in sharp setbacks in progress towards growth and development of LDCs. 460.   At this point of heightened uncertainty, LDCs need special development support more than ever. Therefore South Africa, based on the duly motivated request as put forward by Chad and Bangladesh on behalf of the LDCs, would be in full support of granting this request for the extension under Article 66.1 for as long as a country remains in LDC, plus an additional 12 years after that particular events occurs.
60. The Chair recalled that the transition period for least-developed country Members had been extended twice; most recently, by the TRIPS Council decision of 11 June 2013, and was currently set to expire on 1 July 2021, which was in less than four months' time. Regarding extensions of this 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."
61. The LDC Group had circulated its request for an extension on 1 October 2020. Since then, she had held small-group consultations on this issue on 22 December 2020 and on 10 February 2021. From these consultations, her impression was that delegations were in principle favourable to extending the transition period for LDCs. As regards the specific modalities of such extension, some delegations expressed full support for the extension as requested, some expressed a preference for extending the period for a limited number of years, and others had additional questions on how the request for a transition period for graduated LDCs related to Article 66.1.
62. She reminded delegations of the limited time remaining before the current transition period expired and urged them to focus their interventions on any specific outstanding questions they might have, and to consider making concrete suggestions on possible outcomes, with a view to adopting a decision on extension at the next TRIPS Council meeting in June 2021.
63. The representatives of Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group; Bangladesh, on behalf of the LDC Group; the United Kingdom; South Africa; Chile; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; Turkey; China; India; Australia; Switzerland; the United States of America; Egypt; the European Union; Chinese Taipei; Tunisia; Japan; Indonesia; Nepal; and the Holy See took the floor.
64. The Chair proposed that the Council request the incoming Chair to hold consultations on this matter, with a view to working towards a concrete outcome for the June meeting.
65. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/98, IP/C/M/98/Add.1