1.1. The Chairman recalled that as indicated in his fax to delegations dated 18 September 2017, the purpose of this meeting was to permit delegations to put on record their views regarding the negotiations on the establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of geographical indications for wines and spirits ahead of the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires. He noted that since the circulation of the Draft Composite Text in document TN/IP/21 in April 2011, this was the first formal meeting of the TRIPS Special Session that served not merely to appoint a new chairman, but provided an opportunity for engaging on the substance of the negotiations. This reflected the fact that the considerable activity and momentum on geographical indications that the world had seen in bilateral and regional contexts had unfortunately not translated into substantive engagement in this negotiating group in recent years.
1.2. He recalled that his own past efforts to facilitate re-engagement in the work of the Special Session, as well as his assessment of the state of play of these negotiations, were reflected in two written reports that he had made on his own responsibility – namely TN/IP/23, dated 3 December 2015, and TN/IP/24, dated 8 December 2016. Since his last written report he had also reported orally to the informal Heads of Delegations meeting on 8 May 2017 and to the informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee on 25 July 2017.
1.3. In those interventions he had shared his assessment that the situation in the TRIPS Special Session had not advanced, and that delegations on both sides had shown little appetite to engage in substantive work in the TRIPS Special Session in the context of the overall negotiating landscape. He added that the delegations supporting the Joint Proposal had mostly considered that, due to the divergence of views on the extent of the mandate, there had been little likelihood for a realistic outcome in this area, and they had therefore not been in favour of intensifying work in the TRIPS Special Session. While they were thus not likely to take the initiative in this forum, some had nevertheless signalled their openness to discussions within the negotiating mandate.
1.4. He said that the traditional demandeurs supporting the modalities set out in TN/IP/W/52, had continued to emphasize the importance of the TRIPS negotiations and the role of the TRIPS Special Session, but had considered the overall negotiating context as unfavourable for substantive engagement in this area. More recently, this group had informed him of their internal discussions to reinvigorate the TRIPS Special Session work, which had – however – so far not developed into concrete initiatives in this forum.
1.5. With a view to preparations for the Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December, he also recalled the Director General's intervention at the informal Heads of Delegation meeting on 21 September 2017. In that meeting, the Director-General had called for a "moment of truth" when delegations should make a reasonable assessment of what could – and what could not – be achieved at MC11. In light of the experience at the Nairobi Ministerial, the Director-General had urged Members to prioritize and focus negotiations only in the most promising areas. With respect to negotiating issues that were judged as not advancing fast enough to be resolved by MC11, he had suggested that delegations could focus on how to take this work forward after the Ministerial Conference. Any such guidelines or programmes for post-MC11 work could then be adopted in Buenos Aires, and appropriately reflected in any outcome document.
1.6. While, he said, it was his impression that the GI Register negotiations were not currently a priority for delegations, he was nevertheless keen to ensure that they would prepare for the Ministerial meeting in the best possible manner. This meeting should therefore not only be seen as an occasion to formally record delegations' positions, but also as an occasion to explore options for the future, in light of the DG's suggestions for MC11.
1.7. Against this background he encouraged delegations, when making their interventions, to cover the following two issues:
• What role the Members see for the work of the TRIPS Special Session in the preparations for the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference; and
• How they see the GI Register negotiations continuing after MC11.