11.1. The Chairman said that, since the circulation of the initial proposed agenda, the delegation of Canada had asked for this item to be added to the agenda. It had also submitted a communication that briefly introduced the matter. The communication had been circulated in document IP/C/W/613.
11.2. Before passing the floor to the delegation of Canada to introduce the proposed agenda item, he provided the Council with some background regarding past discussions on e-commerce in the WTO and the TRIPS Council, as well as the most recent mandate adopted by Ministers at MC10. The Second WTO Ministerial Conference held in May 1998 had adopted a Declaration on Global Electronic Commerce, which had launched a comprehensive work programme to examine all trade-related issues relating to global electronic commerce.
11.3. Subsequently, e-commerce had regularly featured on the agenda of each TRIPS Council meeting from 1998 to June 2003, and the Council had produced three reports to the General Council, which had reflected the view among Members that continued further study was needed given the novelty and complexity of the intellectual property issues arising in connection with electronic commerce. Members had also noted the related work of WIPO (IP/C/18, IP/C/20 and IP/C/29).
11.4. In response to a request by the TRIPS Council in December 1998, the Secretariat had also prepared a factual background note and addendum that examined the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement relevant to the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce and relevant activities in other intergovernmental organizations (IP/C/W/128 and Addendum 1).
11.5. Since the Cancún Ministerial Conference in 2003, however, no Member had made any written submissions to the TRIPS Council or otherwise sought to continue discussions on e commerce in the Council.
11.6. At their most recent session in Nairobi in December 2015, Ministers had decided to "continue the work under the Work Programme based on the existing mandate and guidelines and on the basis of proposals submitted by Members in the relevant WTO bodies". They also had instructed the General Council to hold periodic reviews "based on the reports that may be submitted by the WTO bodies entrusted with the implementation of the Work Programme and report to the next session of the Ministerial Conference".
11.7. Ambassador Alfredo Suescum of Panama had also been asked to continue to chair the e commerce talks in his capacity as "a friend of the General Council Chair" in order to facilitate Members' understanding of the linkages between the various elements of the Work Programme.
11.8. The representatives of Canada, Switzerland, the United States, Chinese Taipei, India, Brazil, the European Union, South Africa, the Republic of Korea, China and Bangladesh took the floor.
11.9. The Chairman noted that, as demonstrated by Canada's initiative and the interesting exchange of views at this meeting, there clearly seemed to be a continuing interest of WTO Members in issues related to the interface between intellectual property and e-commerce. While not specifically under the heading of "e-commerce", the TRIPS Council, for example, had continued to discuss, under various agenda items, issues that were relevant in this regard. In addition, the strong interest of Members in this matter was reflected by the wide range of questions concerning IP in the digital environment that had been raised on the occasion of recent Trade Policy Reviews of a number of WTO Members. And it was also supported by the fact that many Regional Trade Agreements that had been notified to the WTO included provisions that dealt with pertinent questions, such as the interface between trademarks and domain names, the liability of internet service providers, and the protection of copyright on the Internet.
11.10. He encouraged Members to consider how they wished to take up issues related to e commerce in the TRIPS Council in the future, taking due account of the significance of the interface between IP and trade in the digital environment, the many important developments at national level, as well as the interest that WTO Members were taking in issues related to e commerce more generally. An in-depth debate could constitute a sound basis for the Council to report to the General Council. It would thus be an opportunity for delegations to contribute to the periodic review that the General Council had been requested to hold, as well as to provide input for the General Council report to the next Ministerial Conference. Such a discussion would not have a norm-setting quality nor would it aim at negotiations of any sort. It would be an opportunity to create a clearer, more inclusive factual picture of the current state of affairs as the foundation for informed dialogue between Members.
11.11. The Council took note of the statements made.