155. I would first like to greet you all – good morning, good afternoon or good evening, depending on where you are in the world. And herein also lies the charm and usefulness of the technology that enables us to communicate in spite of distance and different time zones. This is why the transfer of technology to the least developed countries (LDCs) is vital and indispensable, especially when adapting it to areas that represent their priorities. Often I refer to the work of LDCs and other countries that highlight LDC concerns in terms of policy space and sovereignty regarding development issues and economic, social and cultural issues, saying: "Do not be the objects of others' perception; become the subjects of your own history". The transfer of appropriate technologies helps to enable and empower LDCs to take charge of their own development.
156. As regards the Workshop, the LDC Group thanks the Secretariat, and in particular the Intellectual Property Division team, for organizing the annual Workshop on the Implementation of Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement with respect to incentives for the transfer of technology to LDCs. The Workshop was held from 2 to 4 March. For three days we followed with great interest the rich, varied and constructive presentations on implementing Article 66.2. As the Secretariat just mentioned, there was significant and active participation by both LDC Members and developed Members in Geneva and in our capitals. Four main topics were addressed, in particular Article 66.2 in a broader context of trade, technology transfer and development in LDCs, with technology transfer in various important areas for our group, particularly health, environment and agriculture.
157. Although the Workshop was held in virtual format because of the pandemic and certain restrictions, we hope that a face-to-face meeting will be possible next year.
158. LDC colleagues based in the capitals have provided feedback through a voluntary survey questionnaire. We hope that the information shared by LDCs will be useful for the Secretariat in order to know LDC priorities and design the future technical assistance programme in this regard.
159. The survey questions will also help to strengthen dialogue between LDCs and developed country Members on technology transfer issues. The LDC Group requests the Secretariat to compile a list of priority technologies identified by LDCs in the Workshop and report to the next TRIPS Council meeting. It is essential that partners, particularly developed Members, pay special attention to the priorities presented by LDCs in key sectors and areas, particularly agriculture, environment, education, transport and livestock farming. This was seen during the Workshop, and also in sectors of real interest to MSMEs, with regard to technology transfer to LDCs. We hope that developed country Members will initiate targeted activities and projects to transfer specific technologies to priority areas in our countries.
160. The LDC Group therefore thanks the developed countries for the annual reports under Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. We are pleased that most of the 2021 reports now follow the format suggested by the LDCs. We understand the efforts made to compile all relevant programmes of value that are being implemented as part of each country's development assistance, and we also recognize the valuable benefits generated by each of these projects. We expect the annual reports to specify the beneficiary LDCs and identify the specific technology that has been transferred, even though, as we see in the 2021 reports, such identification is difficult for some projects. Furthermore, there is also a mixture of assistance initiatives under Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement, which include the names of certain developing countries that are not LDCs as beneficiaries of technology transfer.
161. As a result, some reports and even websites do not provide enough or sufficiently detailed information. It would therefore be interesting to know, as from the delegation of Sierra Leone mentioned, the real impact of technology absorption in the LDCs concerned. For this reason, we ask reporting countries to share the final project evaluation reports with the LDCs, since evaluation of all these public development assistance projects related to capacity building is a necessary tool. The LDC Group therefore requests the Secretariat to organize a separate workshop to monitor progress under Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement with regard to technical cooperation. This will also avoid any duplication of reports under Article 66.2 and Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement.
162. The LDC Group would like to highlight some points where improvement is called for. In this new three years period, the LDCs are seeking specific new incentives introduced by developed countries to encourage their enterprises, institutions or other entities within their territories to promote technology transfer to LDCs in line with their obligation under Article 66.2. The LDCs are seeking to establish a viable technological base to develop resilient economies with adequate productive capacities to add value and to become part of regional and global value chains. However, the LDCs have noted a minor change between the first reports on the three years period and those containing updates on the following two years.
163. The reports for each year reflect exactly the same type of project as those for the previous year with some variations in Members' individual reports. The LDCs note that financial or other incentives granted to the private sector in developed Members, for example with regard to the flow of foreign direct investment, equity investments and other instruments such as commercial loans to LDCs, have only been reported by a few developed country Members. It was also noted that the provision of advice on public and private infrastructure and the Private Infrastructure Development Group are jointly funded by many reporting Member governments. However, Switzerland is the only developed country Member to mention these projects in its annual reports. The LDCs therefore encourage all reporting countries to set up mechanisms to collect project data and provide details of their entities that have been encouraged to invest in LDCs from next year.
164. The LDCs believe that when a project refers to "capacity building" in the descriptions column of the table and an effort is being made to improve LDC skill levels and transfer technology to them, it would be useful to know the real impact on the absorption of technology in the LDCs concerned. The LDC Group encourages reporting Members to mention the links to the evaluation report for the project in question in order to share with the LDCs the impact in terms of technology transfer and absorption and skills enhancement. The LDC Group also notes that some reports are unclear, mixing the incentives provided under Article 66.2 and technical assistance provided to certain developing countries, though it is aware of the importance and necessity of technical assistance for LDCs as well as the difficulties faced by reporting Members. The LDC Group encourages them to make an effort to produce separate reports, as this would avoid the duplication of programmes in the reports.
165. Where applicable, the LDCs believe that the objective pursued for each reported project in relation to the beneficiary and the financial allocation needs to be mentioned. In this regard, the LDCs appreciate the efforts of the European Union, which encourages other reporting Members to follow this path, and the LDCs call for more specific information to be made available together with the websites indicating the names and details of the contact points for each relevant project. This would facilitate the follow up between the authorities in our capitals and those of developed country Members. The LDC Group thanks all developed country Members for their annual reports and the efforts made to implement Article 66.2.
166. In conclusion, the LDC Group remains available and open to dialogue in order to ensure that this provision of the TRIPS Agreement concerning technology transfer to LDCs is truly operational. We need strong responses to the huge challenges faced by the LDCs: it should not be forgotten that these challenges continue to get worse because of the consequences of both the current pandemic and the international geopolitical situation. For this reason, the LDC Group reiterates its call to developed country Members to genuinely engage in the effective implementation of Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. LDCs need relevant support to adapt to the new trade landscape that will inevitably be shaped by the main actors and their motives. This is another reason why we need technology transfer. We remain convinced that this tool contributes significantly to improving the standard of living of our peoples, creating wealth and maintaining the workforce in our own countries rather than having people pursue the hazardous course of exile or immigration.
167. Lastly, we also look forward to receiving responses to the questions that the LDC Group submitted, addressed to developed country Members that submitted reports, in particular Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. So we look forward to receiving these responses, and a list of written questions will also be sent to each of these Members.