204. The Chairman said that there were 17 pending requests for observer status in the TRIPS Council. A list of these requests was contained in document IP/C/W/52/Rev.11. Since the Council's meeting in June, the Executive Secretary of the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in his letter to the Director-General dated 3 July 2008, had renewed the application for accreditation of the CBD secretariat as an observer in the TRIPS Council.
205. He recalled that, at its last meeting, the Council had requested the Chairman to hold consultations on the request for observer status from the CBD secretariat. He informed the Council that he had consulted with those delegations who in the past had had some difficulty in granting observer status to the CBD secretariat. The situation continued to be, in essence, as reported by his predecessor at the Council's meeting in March. One of these delegations believed that, without prejudice to its position regarding the issue of permanent observer status, it might be possible to make progress in this particular case following the model used in the Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Environment and the Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation, namely by inviting the CBD secretariat as an ad hoc invitee on a meeting-by-meeting basis. However, another delegation continued to have concerns on the grounds that an observer should have a broad interest in the TRIPS Agreement not only limited to some particular issues and that the broader question about observership remained unresolved. He said that, therefore, it did not seem possible to make progress on this matter at that stage. However, he stood ready to continue his consultations, as requested by one delegation that he had consulted.
206. The representative of India said that his delegation appreciated the efforts made by the Chairman and his predecessor in finding a solution to the long pending requests for observer status from the secretariat of the CBD. He reiterated the concerns his delegation had expressed at the previous Council meeting. While he was aware of the list of 17 pending requests, he felt that the CBD presented a special case due to its direct relevance to the issues being discussed in the Council. Members were engaged in the Council and elsewhere in the WTO in discussions that had a direct relationship with the CBD, including under three permanent items on the Council's agenda, one of which was the "Relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity". He agreed with those delegations that had said that there was a need for coherence between the work on CBD-related issues being carried out in several organizations, and that the CBD Secretariat's presence at the Council would be helpful in this regard. At Doha, Ministers had recognized the importance of granting observer status to MEA secretariats with a view to enhancing mutual supportiveness between trade and environment (para. 30(ii)). He said that about 80 Members had co-sponsored the disclosure proposal which sought to enhance mutual supportiveness between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD. He felt that the request by the CBD secretariat had to be decided positively and expeditiously. In the meantime, an ad hoc invitation should be extended to the CBD secretariat, for which there were several precedents in the WTO. He requested that the Chairman continue his consultations with the relevant Members.