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

Ambassador Carlos Pérez del Castillo (Uruguay)
15. The representative of Cuba referred to the answer that his delegation had received, on 15 April 1999, from the United States concerning Section 211 of the United States Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act 1998 for the fiscal year 1999 (pp.105-277), which included some provisions concerning the boycott against Cuba. Unfortunately, the information contained therein did not meet Cuba's expectations, since it did not illustrate or comment on the compatibility of Section 211 with the TRIPS Agreement. He regretted that, even though almost five months had passed since Cuba's first formal request before the Council, made on 2 December 1998, and having reiterated the request at the Council's meeting of 17 February 1999, the United States could only put forward the legal texts which, as the accompanying note said, were available on the Internet. In the light of the communication of 15 April 1999 and six months after the enactment of Section 211, the delegation of Cuba wished to express its total disagreement with the evident breach of the obligations undertaken by the United States as a Member of the World Trade Organization and, in particular, its infringement of the rules applicable under the TRIPS Agreement as a result of the enactment, on 21 October 1998, of Section 211 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for the fiscal year of 1999. Whereas the TRIPS Agreement did not admit any reservation without the consent of all Members, the exceptions established in Article 73 did not apply to Section 211, and the Agreement generated obligations in respect of all subject-matter existing at the date of its application, the delegation of Cuba concluded that the above-mentioned law presumably violated, among others, Articles 2, 3, 41 and 62 of the Agreement. Section 211 unjustifiably impeded access to the protection, in the territory of the United States, of rights that legitimately pertained to foreign and Cuban applicants and holders. In addition, it nullified the benefits under international or multilateral agreements or treaties, accruing to nationals or Cuban firms or any other person who acted on behalf of the Cuban authorities. This result affected the application of the TRIPS Agreement in particular. 16. Given that the documentation submitted by the United States did not satisfy Cuba's request, he formally reiterated the request that the United States provide detailed information about the compatibility of Section 211 with the TRIPS Agreement, by virtue of its obligations pursuant to Article 63, in particular its paragraph 3. The delegation of Cuba demanded the strict and unconditional respect of the principles of the multilateral system, which should be applicable without discrimination and arbitrary considerations or acts in deviation from the rules of international trade that had been multilaterally agreed. Section 211 was a unilateral coercive measure contrary to international law, which represented an unprecedented extension and reinforcement of the economic, commercial and financial boycott imposed against Cuba, which had implications for foreign investment and Cuban trade with third countries and which had been rejected on several occasions by the General Assembly of the United Nations as well as by other regional and international organizations. The most recent condemnation of the economic boycott had been made during the second summit of the Heads of State and Governments of the Caribbean Countries, of 17 April 1999, in Santo Domingo, whereby all the governments of that area had stated their rejection of all unilateral coercive measures, as well as the extraterritorial application of national laws, by any State. In view of the above, Cuba reserved its right to undertake other actions in the context of the WTO. He requested that his statement be recorded in the minutes of the meeting and distributed to all Members.