71. The representative of Australia recognized the dissatisfaction of some Members with the protection of their geographical indications in some or all export markets. This was a reflection of the fact that the regime for geographical indication protection provided for by the TRIPS Agreement was not global, but rather based on individual, national level systems. Her delegation believed that the WTO Membership had a common interest in reaching a greater understanding of the practical operation of the provisions of Section 3 of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement. The Council needed to take a practical, problem solving approach to its work on geographical indications, to try to shed light on the source of the dissatisfaction of some Members with TRIPS geographical indication protection. In particular, there was a need to examine whether the current unhappiness with the existing provisions was really due to fundamental flaws in the rules themselves, or rather related to issues of compliance at the national level with those rules. Australia was concerned that changing the existing treaty language for its own sake might amount to an empty gesture, and that it might not actually solve the difficulties being experienced by some Members in having their geographical indications protected in other Members. Inserting a set of more prescriptive geographical indication obligations into the TRIPS Agreement could create new costs and burdens for all Members, and in particular developing country Members. It would be pre emptive to begin negotiations on amending the text before the Council had a collective understanding of the operation of the provisions. Her delegation fully supported ongoing consultations on geographical indications between now and the next TRIPS Council meeting, and was ready actively to engage in such discussions. It intended to table a series of practical proposals for taking the work on geographical indications forward. In her delegation's view, there was currently no mandate for a multilateral register for products other than wines and spirits, and no mandate to expand the product coverage of Article 24.1. It would retard progress in general to merge two distinct issues, one of which was mandated and one of which was not the establishment of a multilateral register under Article 23.4, a mandated task, and the rewriting of Article 23.1 to introduce new products under its coverage, a task which was not mandated. If delegations wished to merge a distinct, mandated task with a task which would require a fresh or expanded mandate from the Ministerial Conference, then no concrete outcome would be possible until after the next Ministerial. It would be a more productive use of time to attempt to complete existing mandated tasks now, and then consider what recommendations might be made for future tasks.
72. In order to clarify her delegation's view concerning the mandate under Article 24.2, she said that this review concerned the application of the provisions of Section 3 on geographical indications. One dictionary definition of 'application' was 'an act of putting to use'. In general, this required a review of how the provision had been put into effect. Given that domestic laws were the only means of giving effect to this provision, a review of national laws was the logical way forward to carry out this provision. With regard to the question as to how to proceed on Article 24.2, practical answers to questions about perceived shortcomings in geographical indication protection could only come from consideration of provisions in national law, which provided for the actual legal means that provided protection. Members had already requested a vast amount of information, over and above normal notification and review requirements, in the form of the extensive questionnaire that had been circulated. It was vital to ensure that all Members which had now implemented TRIPS consistent laws should be represented in this study, and they should be encouraged to provide responses to the questionnaires so as to broaden the base and representative nature of the input to the review. Further elements of Article 24.2 gave a suggestion as to how the review could continue: the Article 24.2 review established a consultative process concerning compliance with TRIPS obligations in this area. In the absence of any specific concerns about compliance, it might be useful to conduct a case study approach, whereby specific geographical indication protection scenarios of concern to Members would be explored, and greater understanding attained as to how protection would be afforded under the wide range of national legal means that had been notified. If this task was too complex for the TRIPS Council as such, it might be timely to recall that the Council could establish subsidiary bodies under Article IV:6 of the Marrakesh Agreement.