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

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
74.   Australia thanks the Secretariat for circulating the draft annual review of the Special Compulsory Licensing System. Australia recognizes the sovereign right of all WTO Members to exercise their rights under the System, including in response to COVID-19. We encourage all remaining WTO Members to accept the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement and stand ready to provide assistance to Members that require advice or assistance with this process. Given that not all Members have accepted the Protocol, Australia supports the extension of the period for acceptance of the Protocol until 2023. 75.   Australia thanks the Secretariat for its ongoing work to provide technical assistance to Members to support the effective use of the System and welcomes relevant capacity building activities dedicated to the System held over the past year. We also welcome further capacity building activities in line with the second edition of the WTO, WHO and WIPO Study on Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation. And we note that Annex 3 of the Study provides a helpful overview of the Special Compulsory Licensing System. Consistent with past interventions, Australia reiterates its support for any efforts to streamline and improve the System, to ensure it is user-friendly and can be quickly and effectively operationalized in times of crisis, including as needed in response to COVID-19.
28. The Chair recalled that, in the past, the review had been conducted pursuant to Paragraph 6 of the 2003 Decision on the Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. Since the entry into force of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement on 23 January 2017, the review also responded to the requirements that had now been incorporated into the amended TRIPS Agreement.
29. Paragraph 7 of the Annex to the amended TRIPS Agreement and paragraph 8 of the 2003 Waiver Decision required the Council to review the functioning of the System annually, with a view to ensuring its effective operation. They also required the Council to report annually on the System's operation to the General Council. In the case of the Waiver Decision, this review was also deemed to fulfil the requirements of Article IX:4 of the WTO Agreement.
30. The Chair updated Members on the status of acceptances of the TRIPS Protocol. The current period for accepting it ran until 31 December 2021. The amended TRIPS Agreement was binding for 133 WTO Members. In other words, 31 Members were yet to accept the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement. He encouraged those Members to complete their domestic procedures and deposit their instrument of acceptance with the WTO Director-General as soon as possible.
31. When the TRIPS Amendment had entered into force in January 2017, Members had noted that it would be useful to consider how to make this new procurement tool work effectively in practice. He therefore encouraged Members to engage in a constructive discussion which could also build on earlier reviews, as recorded for instance in the Council's Annual Review of 2016 (circulated in document , as well as the Secretariat's 2016 Report on Technical Cooperation Activities (circulated in document .
32. The Chair also noted that during his small-group consultations on the waiver proposal and the proposal from the European Union, a detailed discussion on the TRIPS requirements for using Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement and the Annex had taken place, including on areas for possible improvement. He added that the topics identified there could also usefully inform Members' discussion.
33. The Chair turned to the Council's report to the General Council. A draft report had been prepared by the Secretariat (circulated in document JOB/IP/48). It was modelled on previous years' reports and contained factual information on the implementation and use of the system. Under the section on the Amendment to the TRIPS Agreement, it also included a list of Members who were yet to accept the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement. As with past reports, an extract from the Council's minutes on this agenda item would be attached to the report in Annex 1 and Appendix 1.
34. The Council also had to decide whether to extend the period for acceptance of the Protocol which currently ran until the end of 2021. Since there were 31 Members that had yet to accept the Protocol, the Chair suggested that the Council once again extend the period for acceptance for another two years – until 31 December 2023. A draft decision for the General Council was included in Annex 2 of the Draft Report.
35. The representatives of Australia; Chile; Brazil; the European Union; Zimbabwe; Namibia; the United States; Switzerland; the United Kingdom; Japan and Argentina took the floor.
36. The Council took note of the statements made.
37. The Council agreed to adopt the draft report and to attach the record of the discussion to it, and to submit, for the General Council's adoption, a decision to extend until 31 December 2023 the period for the acceptance by Members of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement.
IP/C/M/103, IP/C/M/103/Add.1