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

Ambassador István Major (Hungary)
Hong Kong, China
92. The representative of Hong Kong, China agreed with the observation made by the representative of Chile on the issue of scope. Article 23.4 of the TRIPS Agreement referred only to wines, which meant that wines and spirits should be dealt with on two separate tracks and not necessarily in parallel. Guidelines or directives agreed by the Ministerial Conference could not change that. In respect of wine, there was a legal obligation under Article 23.4 to create a rule-based system with rights and obligations, whereas any further work on spirits must proceed on a slower track. Proposals made by some Members to include other products, like fisheries, agricultural products, artisan ware, industrial products and so on, were not consistent with the suggested criteria that the system should not be burdensome and not be in conflict with existing national systems. He said that there was no legal basis whatsoever under the TRIPS Agreement for any further work on products other than wine, and that even work on spirits had no legal basis, either in Article 23.4, which only referred to wine, or in Article 24.1, which referred back to Article 23. Nowhere in Section 3 of the TRIPS Agreement did any requirement exist for any work on any product other than wine. Hong Kong, China, like other developing Members, was preparing implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in the year 2000 and was anxious about engaging in additional negotiations and additional obligations beyond the requirements of the Agreement. Due care should be taken that the level of protection would not be changed and that there would be no change in obligations under the Agreement. He drew attention to the possible implications for dispute settlement. The European Communities had emphasized the voluntary nature of the system, but this was already stipulated in Article 23.4 itself. However, it left open the question of how any system that would be set up would apply to Members not participating in the system. He believed that the wording in paragraph V.1 of the European Communities proposal in this regard was not clear.