134. The representative of the Secretariat provided a brief update to the Council on the work that the Secretariat was undertaking in relation to the needs communication, resource mobilization and coordination process focused on the individual priority needs of LDC Members. He said that the 2005 Council Decision concerning the implementation period for LDCs and the process for communication of individual priority needs and coordination on fulfilment of those needs included a requirement for the Secretariat to step up its coordination efforts. At the Council's October 2011 meeting, he had reported at length on the steps taken, under the guidance of the LDC Group of countries, to promote greater coordination of that process. Those steps had culminated in a workshop held in Geneva prior to that meeting.
135. The biennial technical assistance and training programme (document WT/COMTD/W/180/Rev.1 circulated on 3 February 2012) for the 2012-2013 biennium gave priority to the LDCs as a fundamental principle. Specific support was earmarked for needs assessments as such; and LDC needs assessments and trade policy reviews (TPRs) were integrated. reports for least developed and developing countries included a section on Aid for Trade which, inter alia, covered the country's TA needs and priorities, as identified during the review in cooperation with the Member concerned. That pointed to some of the on-going system-wide work that could be undertaken to support the specific needs-assessment process identified by the Council.
136. The TA plan included over the biennium two further Geneva Symposia scheduled for both 2012 and 2013 on LDC needs assessment concerning implementation of the TRIPS Agreement. The planning and consulting on these Symposia would be undertaken in close coordination and under the direction of the LDC Group of countries in particular, and Members in general. They offered a key opportunity to move towards a more focused, practical coordination of needs communicated and any updates of LDC needs. The TA programmes and resources of the WTO itself, other IGOs such as WIPO and UNCTAD, and bilateral programmes run by developed country Members and other providers of TA resources, many of which they knew from past consultations, were indeed already actively addressing the needs identified in that process. He underscored the benefit of such practical exchange of information and coordination that past workshops had focused on, and had been a particular feature of the October 2011 workshop.
137. In order to assist in the coordination process, the WTO webpage on the LDC needs assessment process already included practical information and resources on the process. It also included the full needs assessments themselves as submitted by LDC Members. There was also an additional section containing information from developed country Members on technical and financial cooperation provided to LDC Members, including in response to any priority needs identified by LDC Members. The recent submission by the European Union in document IP/C/W/568, as described by the EU delegation, was the first entry on that new section.
138. In addition, he noted that under the biennial TA programme, resources were earmarked for national activities under the general heading "assisting beneficiaries in conducting Needs Assessment". These resources might potentially be drawn upon by individual LDC Members to support the process, if they so required, in line with the general demand-driven approach to national TA activities.
139. In order to support LDCs, both in undertaking their needs assessments as required and in their coordination with providers of technical and financial resources to fulfil those needs, a guidebook was in the process of being curated through various phases of the work programme, including through regional workshops and Geneva-based workshops. He expected that resources would be available to support LDCs in undertaking that process in the course of the biennium exercise.
140. It was important to note, bearing in mind the direction from the Council towards greater and improved coordination in that area, that other international organizations had been active in supporting LDCs in identifying their priority development needs in relation to the IP system and the TRIPS Agreement in particular. Among international organizations, WIPO and UNCTAD were notable in that regard. It was also worth bearing in mind that existing needs assessments had been prepared with the support of such organizations, underscoring the necessity and the benefits of improved coordination between international organizations and other resource providers and programmes, in particular as that took on a more practical accent. He believed that such enhanced coordination would continue to be a focus of the WTO Secretariat's efforts and expressed his appreciation for the collegial and collaborative approach of colleagues, notably in WIPO, UNCTAD and, on health-related TA matters, the WHO. Additionally, a number of international experts and the ICTSD had also worked on the needs assessment process in a number of countries and the informal consultation and coordination network also included such active players.
141. He said that the Secretariat's work would continue to be guided by the directions given by Members and, in particular, those Members most concerned, i.e. the LDC Group and individual LDC Members. This also took a lead, as outlined earlier, from the Technical Assistance Plan approved by Members, which stressed the priority for support for LDCs and in particular for needs assessment activities.