The following communication, dated 21 October 2008, from the Delegation of the European Communities is being circulated pursuant to paragraph 1 of the Decision on Implementation of Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. It was circulated as an advance copy for the TRIPS Council meeting in October 2008.
I. GENERAL REMARKS
1. This document is circulated in accordance with the Decision of the Council for TRIPS of 19 February 2003, according to which developed country Members shall submit annually reports on actions taken or planned in pursuance of their commitments under Article 66.2 (incentives provided to their enterprises or institutions for the purpose of promoting and encouraging technology transfer to least developed country Members).
2. As agreed in the Council for TRIPS, this document is a detailed report on technology transfer incentives put in place by the EC and its member States.
3. This cover note is followed by a series of detailed sheets presenting the existing incentives to technology transfer. The first set of sheets deals with incentives given by the European Communities; the second set covers incentives given by individual member States (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom).
II. SCOPE AND NATURE OF INFORMATION PROVIDED
4. Technology transfer refers here to the ways and means through which companies and organizations acquire technology from foreign sources. There are several types of technologies as well as several channels of transmission. Indeed, the acquisition by least developed countries (LDCs) of a sound and viable technological base does not depend solely on the provision of physical objects or equipment, but also on the acquisition of know-how, on management and production skills, on improved access to knowledge sources as well as on adaptation to local economic, social and cultural conditions.
5. It is clear that the private - and particularly the commercial - sector is nowadays the main source of technologies and, in this context, technology transfer is often one component of a more complex project, rather than a stand alone activity.
6. A privileged channel for technology transfer, including transfer of know-how, is foreign direct investment (FDI); joint research projects between private and/or public partners are also important in helping LDCs to benefit from technologies and adapt them to their specific needs; access to the right partners, to information and to expertise are key at all stages.
7. In their efforts to encourage and promote technology transfer, developed country governments are usually limited by two factors: 1) they do not own the vast majority of such technologies; 2) they cannot force the private sector to transfer its technologies.
8. Incentives can therefore only take the form of encouragement, promotion and facilitation of the (potentially) most fruitful projects. They shall be part of a global and comprehensive approach of development.
9. Against this background, the EC consider that relevant incentives can be identified as those that:
Objective 1: promote projects such as direct investment, licensing, franchising,
Objective 2: improve access to available techniques and industrial processes;
Objective 3: support joint research projects;
Objective 4: provide training in technology management and production methods;
Objective 5: more indirectly, improve the absorption capacity of LDCs (capacity building);
Objective 6: encourage trade in technological goods.
10. The attached sheets illustrate the efforts made by the EC to promote and encourage technology transfer. They describe only incentives that have a strong link with at least one of the aforementioned objectives and, with a few exceptions, which concentrate on European enterprises and institutions.
11. In addition, most countries and regions benefit from allocations for private-sector development included in their national or regional cooperation programmes.
12. Finally, it should be borne in mind that no technology transfer programme is specifically dedicated to least developed countries as such. EC initiatives are usually specific to countries/groups of countries/regions, since the EC strongly support regional integration, which fosters better understanding and political and economic links between neighbouring countries. However, the EC's approach to the allocation of aid and incentives pays particular attention to the situation of the least developed and other low income countries.