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

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
Chad on behalf of Least-developed countries
13 EXTENSION OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD UNDER ARTICLE 66.1 OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT FOR LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRY MEMBERS

517.   On behalf of all the members of the LDC Group, I would like to very sincerely thank all the Members and observers who have spoken in support of the LDC proposal. I would like, in particular, to thank the United Kingdom, South Africa, Chile, Turkey, China, India, Australia, Switzerland, the African Group, the United States, Japan, Egypt, the European Union, Chinese Taipei, Tunisia, Indonesia and all the Members who have supported our request. 518.   We have seen great support for our proposal. The duty of solidarity towards the more vulnerable Members is important, and several Members have noted this. We have not observed red-light opposition to the proposal. We have taken good note of the request for clarification from Switzerland as to the compatibility with certain WTO rules. We are going to bilaterally address this issue with Switzerland to provide the necessary clarifications. 519.   We hope that the TRIPS Council will adopt the text of the decision submitted for its approval as soon as possible and in any case before the expiry date. For the time being, we are ready to pursue the dialogue to approve together a consensus agreement. As was explained by our focal point Bangladesh, the extension requested is not permanent. It is for a limited period of time. For graduating LDCs, it is to permit them a smooth transition. We need these flexibilities and this margin of maneuver to help us as LDCs in our development efforts and, as our focal point said, to improve our participation in world trade. 520.   The LDC Group also welcomes the approach, flexibilities and understanding on the part of the United States as well as the European Union. We are ready to provide further clarification, in order to achieve a consensual result. Thank you, Chair, for this fair and fruitful discussion. We hope that this discussion will shortly produce a very successful outcome so that the LDC Group proposal can be adopted by the TRIPS Council and the General Council.

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