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

Ambassador István Major (Hungary)
82. The representative of Argentina said that, firstly, the Report (1996) of the TRIPS Council approved by the Ministerial Conference in Singapore indicated that a system of notification and registration of spirits would form part of the preliminary work of the Council for the establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration under Article 23.4. Her delegation therefore considered that spirits should be included in the “preliminary work” of the Council, but they did not seem to fall within the scope of “negotiations” which under Article 23.4 were envisaged only for wines. As a result, her delegation believed that all references to spirits should be understood as relating to work with a preliminary character without the inference that they related to the negotiations as such. Secondly, her delegation believed that it was clear from an analysis of the last part of Article 23.4, where it referred to "those Members participating in the system", that registration should be of a voluntary nature. Registration was only to be an instrument for transparency and to facilitate compliance with obligations already in force under the Agreement. If new obligations and burdens were introduced, there was a risk that many Members would refuse to participate in the system, thereby removing its usefulness. As regards the European Communities proposal, she said that, despite the fact that the European Communities had said it would not impose on Members any new obligations, the second point of the first paragraph of section I entailed the creation of a new obligation in its reference to elements of proof and appeared to aim at creating a special dispute settlement mechanism for Members participating in the register. Section IV exceeded what was provided for in Article 23.3 in terms of introducing negotiations on aspects not envisaged in these provisions. The first paragraph of section V, which stated that the geographical indications would be protected for "an indefinite period", was in contradiction to Article 24.9 and the last sentence of this paragraph seemed redundant when compared to the text of the TRIPS Agreement. Her delegation had no problem with the third paragraph of section V, in light of the principles expressed at the last meeting by the representative of the European Communities, in which context he had referred to "exceptions in the Agreement which were Member-specific". Nonetheless, in order to ensure equitable treatment, the possibility should be considered that those Members who had not opposed a registration could revise this in the light of new factors which emerged subsequently. There should also be a possibility for the register to remain open to the inclusion of new geographical indications as provided in Part VII. If not, the register would "freeze" the current situation, making difficult the use of geographical indications in those Members in which use was still incipient.