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

Ambassador Chak Mun See (Singapore)
45. The representative of Australia said that his delegation, in the light of the particular focus on the issue of technical cooperation at this meeting, would like to dwell on some aspects of its submission. Australia regarded it as vitally important to have a dialogue on technical assistance. Assistance should be appropriate and it should be avoided to put effort and resources into activities that were not necessarily productive. His delegation had comparatively limited resources and was most concerned to apply them as productively as possible. To that end, for example, during the recent visit of the WIPO's Director General, Dr. Idris, to Australia, a bilateral agreement had been concluded with WIPO, which focused especially on development cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, with the express intent of greater coordination of effort to the benefit of developing countries in the region. A particular focus of Australia's work had been with its neighbour Indonesia and there had been a number of extensive programmes with that country, not only in relation to the implementation of TRIPS obligations in a formal sense, but also working towards mechanisms for driving the benefits of TRIPS implementation. Furthermore, South Pacific island countries faced a number of challenges in relation to appropriate forms of intellectual property administration and protection and Australia was working through the South Pacific forum to identify appropriate regional approaches so as to alleviate the burden on these small island countries. A growing focus was the need for specific sectoral technical cooperation in relation to intellectual property and a good example thereof concerned the field of biotechnology. There were very widely held concerns about the implications of how intellectual property in this field was administered, enforced and exploited. One response to this was of course to build up specific expertise in this field. This was a focus of the work his delegation, which would shortly release a comprehensive training package, of which all Members would be able to take advantage if they so wished. As regards the broader question of featuring directions for technical cooperation under Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement, he recalled that the focus so far had rightly been on systemic cooperation, building up intellectual property systems, establishing legal structures, establishing administrative structures, providing the necessary skills for their administration. However, having invested extensive resources in this process, developing countries were naturally looking to reap the benefits of that investment and this involved a new phase of activity, in particular the development of new skills and new capacities, relating more to the management of intellectual property rights and the exploitation of intellectual property rights than to the establishment of the system under which they operated. With that in mind, Australia had been focusing on areas such as public awareness and education programmes and materials as well as the development of specific skills in management of intellectual property rights and the commercialization of research and other intellectual property assets.