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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
European Union
13 EXTENSION OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD UNDER ARTICLE 66.1 OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT FOR LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRY MEMBERS
480.   The European Union recognizes the economic, financial and administrative constraints that least developed countries have to contend with on their path to development. We are also fully aware of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these difficulties and that resources must be put into what is the common priority around the globe, i.e. dealing with a health crisis of an unprecedented scale. 481.   The EU believes that a certain level of IPR protection and enforcement is necessary also in LDCs, because IPRs are a catalyst and an important tool for sustainable development. IPR protection and enforcement constitute an incentive for technology holders to promote the diffusion of knowledge and attract inward investment to LDCs. A certain level of protection and enforcement of IPRs in LDCs also serves as an incentive for EU companies to bring their new technologies to LDCs. 482.   Therefore, it is necessary to create avenues for LDCs to implement the TRIPS Agreement. The objective should be to gradually integrate LDCs, as Members of the multilateral trading system, in the international IP system, on the basis of the minimum requirements provided in the TRIPS Agreement. 483.   Given the current situation, we recognize that LDCs will need more time to implement the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. The EU supports the extension of the transitional period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement. We stand ready to consider the appropriate length of such an extension and to work on the appropriate decision of the TRIPS Council to put such extension into effect. 484.   As regards the second part of the request, which is the 12-year exemption for countries that graduate from LDC status, we note that it appears to be also a part of the request that is being discussed in the General Council in the context of the communication on smooth transition in favour of countries graduating from the LDC category submitted by Chad on behalf of the LDC Group. It seems to us that given the broader scope of this part of the request, it may indeed fit better in the context of the discussion in the General Council. The European Union stands ready to engage further with the LDC Group on these communications.
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