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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Pimchanok PITFIELD
175.  Argentina is analyzing the proposal. In light of the mandate under Article 24 of the "Ministerial Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics", which emphasizes the importance of analyzing the lessons learned and challenges experienced during the pandemic, it is our view that moving forward with this work may give rise to a substantive proposal that will enable us to fulfil the mandate under Article 71.1. The aforementioned Article states that reviews may be undertaken "in the light of any relevant new developments which might warrant modification or amendment" of the Agreement. This is in line with the Declaration on the WTO response to the pandemic and the MC12 Decision on the TRIPS Agreement, which bring to light the need for a response to global health emergencies, such as a pandemic.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
30. The Chair recalled that, under Article 71.1, the Council was required to conduct a review of the implementation of the agreement once every two years. However, as the initial review in 1999 had not been completed, no other review has subsequently been initiated.
31. She reported that, in her consultations held prior to the current meeting, she had explored Members' preferences on how to comply with this mandate going forward. She had clarified that this review was not intended to re-open the substance of the TRIPS Agreement, but rather to establish a long-term process to share experiences on how different parts of the Agreement had been implemented domestically or regionally. She noted, for clarity, that this did not affect Members' rights to make proposals to amend the Agreement, if they so wish – as one Member had pointed out in the informal meeting on 8 June. But it was clear that the mandated regular review of the implementation of the Agreement under Article 71.1 did not imply or require any intention or commitment by Members to amend the agreement.
32. Taking inspiration from the review practices in other WTO bodies – such as SPS or TBT – she suggested that Members could agree on a few well-defined areas or themes, and share their domestic experiences in these fields in dedicated thematic sessions over a period of two years, after which the Council could circulate a factual report. This might provide an opportunity for Members to learn and better understand parts of the Agreement without aiming for a particular outcome, and could help strengthen the deliberative function of the Council.
33. She said that, as she had reported in her communication of 25 May, all delegations who had participated in the consultations had been open to considering this approach, although some noted the need to avoid linkages to other issues, to take into account sensitivities, and had cautioned not to begin ambitious or controversial discussions.
34. She said that while she did not necessarily envisage the review to restart under her chairmanship, she felt that setting the path for this important function would open an opportunity for Members to share experiences and review how implementation of the Agreement had worked in their respective economies. She recalled that under item 1, a number of Members had notified amendments to domestic laws in reaction to digital and other new technologies, and she noted that implementation in this area could be a possible topic for the review.
35. She proposed that, if Members agreed, she would continue focused consultations on identifying possible topics and modalities with a view to restarting the review.
36. The delegations of South Africa; Argentina; Colombia; and the United Kingdom took the floor.
37. The Chair thanked Members for their interventions and indicated that she would continue consultations as proposed.
38. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/108, IP/C/M/108/Add.1