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

Ambassador W. Armstrong (New Zealand)
J.i Protocol of Accession of Ecuador
63. The representative of Ecuador wished to point out, first, that Ecuador was not trying to shirk its commitments and obligations as regards the protection of intellectual property rights. Ecuador was a Member of WIPO and had sound legislation to protect intellectual property, having incorporated the standards of the main international conventions into its legislation. Its Congress had ratified the WTO Agreement, including the TRIPS Agreement. However, it must be recognized that bringing certain aspects of its national legal system into conformity with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement required time. In carrying out this process, Ecuador had the right to invoke the transitional period for developing country Members under the TRIPS Agreement and would welcome technical cooperation during that period, from any source. He also recalled that, during the process of accession, his delegation had pointed out that Ecuador's national legislation for the protection of intellectual property incorporated the common standards of the Andean Group, of which subregional integration agreement Ecuador was a member; these common standards provided adequate protection in respect of various categories of intellectual property, including patents, industrial designs, utility models, trademarks, trade names and geographical indications. Consideration of the provisions of this set of common rules, as contained in various instruments, in particular Decision 344 of the Cartagena Agreement, within the WTO would be subject to the transitional period of Article 65.2 applicable to all members of the Andean Group. The second aspect that he wished to point out was that his delegation could not accept attempts to impair its country's rights in the WTO. This was a matter of principle concerning the defence of acquired rights of developing countries under the WTO Agreement. Lack of respect for the principle of equity and for the special and differential treatment reserved for developing country Members might jeopardize and damage the image that other developing countries had of the multilateral system of the WTO. Longer periods of transition, as reflected in the TRIPS Agreement, had been agreed in order to provide the countries in question the opportunity to bring their systems into conformity with the requirements under that Agreement within the multilateral system of the WTO. It was not merely a matter of determining the date as of which the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement had to be applied by Ecuador. What was at stake here was the way in which stronger countries perceived the interests of developing countries in the WTO. The legal protection that the WTO system provided was not the exclusive prerogative of the great powers. Ecuador's participation in the WTO was justified if it could be sure that, if its government wished to exercise legitimately any right contemplated in an international instrument within the WTO system, for example under Article 65.2 of the TRIPS Agreement, it had the right to demand this if necessary. Turning to the interpretation of Ecuador's Protocol of Accession, he wished to make it clear that the text of the Protocol, at least in Spanish, did not imply that Ecuador was now in a position of having lost the right to invoke the transitional period provided for in Article 65.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. The position of Ecuador was not comparable to that of other countries that had recently acceded to the WTO. Unlike the countries in question, Ecuador had not accepted an unequivocal declaration in its Protocol of Accession that it would not make use of any transitional period under the TRIPS Agreement.