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

Mr. S. Harbinson (Hong Kong)
B Arrangements for Cooperation with WIPO
12. Elaborating on the three possible areas of cooperation identified in document PC/IPL/7/Add.2, the representative of Egypt believed that it was still premature to seek any kind of agreed cooperation between the WTO and WIPO in the areas of technical assistance and dispute settlement and that the priority for close cooperation lay in the area of notification procedures. She noted that the type of technical assistance that could be expected from the WTO Secretariat had not yet been defined, bearing in mind its modest capacity in terms of manpower and finance. Of course, advice and assistance could be sought from the International Bureau of WIPO, since such was the prerogative of each country. Only one provision of the TRIPS Agreement, Article 67, referred to the issue of technical cooperation, addressing solely the obligations of developed country Members. However, her delegation would welcome an exchange of views and ideas between the Secretariats of the WTO and of the WIPO on an informal basis concerning the interpretation of some of the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. In the area of dispute settlement, seeking information and technical advice from WIPO was the prerogative of panelists, arbitrators, Appellate Body members, as well as the parties to any dispute. There was no urgency for designing the modalities of any type of cooperation between WIPO and the WTO in this respect, since the dispute settlement mechanism would not become really operational in respect of the TRIPS Agreement until January 1996. Moreover, the outcome of the forthcoming meeting of the WIPO Committee of Experts on the Settlement of Disputes Between States had to be awaited. As to the area of priority where close cooperation should be worked out between the WTO and WIPO -notification requirements - the general rule should be to avoid the notification of measures and laws which had already been the subject of notifications in other fora. Such avoidance of double notifications would certainly lessen the burden on Member States as well as on the Secretariats. It would also ensure clearer efficiency in the gathering of information and its dissemination; fragmented distribution usually led to uncertainty and confusion. As regards the staged programme of work which the Contact Group had established with a view to developing appropriate arrangements for cooperation between the WTO and WIPO, it was certainly true that the Members of the WTO, being the initiators behind the search for cooperation with the International Bureau of WIPO, were entitled, in the framework of the TRIPS Council, to take the time necessary to formulate first and in concrete terms the forms of cooperation they would deem most appropriate and adequate. To that end, the Council was given one full year. Nevertheless, her delegation believed that there were many urgent questions which the TRIPS Council had to address at this time and which needed to be dealt with jointly with WIPO. In addition, it would seem difficult for one body to decide unilaterally on issues which fell within the purview of another body. To this end and in accordance with the desire to establish a mutually supportive relationship between the Organizations, a joint ad hoc informal working group should be established, in order to facilitate achieving the objective of developing appropriate arrangements for cooperation. Her delegation would not suggest that such a working group be institutionalized, but only be established for the purpose of servicing stages two and three of the staged programme of work agreed in the Contact Group, i.e. the consideration of forms of cooperation and of how consultations between the two Organizations had best be conducted. Such a working group was not an end in itself, but a means of developing the desired appropriate arrangements for cooperation.