125. Yesterday saw the sixth in a series of informal workshops convened by the Secretariat with the goal of facilitating the understanding and exchange of information between LDC Members and the Members reporting on their implementation of Article 66.2. Accordingly, the workshop, as in the past, brought together the three active parties in the monitoring process:
• Firstly, the developed country Members who put considerable effort into collecting, assembling and formatting the information about incentives provided under Article 66.2;
• Most importantly, the LDC Members to whom this information was most directly addressed and intended for their consideration and review; and
• Lastly, the Secretariat which is responsible for processing and managing the flow of this information for the benefit of Members.
126. The workshop once again underscored that there is a great deal of useful information circulated through this reporting process, but that some delegations do face challenges in absorbing and reviewing this information in a timely fashion, both because of the reporting cycle and the pressures of other work, making it difficult to devote attention to the detail.
127. The main focus of the workshop was on the substantive content of the reports filed by developed country Members. An active dialogue was facilitated between Members concerning details of specific programmes or measures. Discussion also turned to broader issues such as the approach taken to defining transfer of technology, the kind of technology concerned, the impact of particular incentives, and the interrelation between measures reported under this provision and technical cooperation activities as such. A number of detailed questions were posed that could not be covered within the compass of the workshop itself, with participants therefore undertaking to provide follow-up information, and we are working on ways to facilitate the continuing flow of this information.
128. One aspect of the discussion at the workshop concerned how effectively to manage this rich body of information supplied by developed country members and reviewed and analysed by LDC Members. Several delegates commented on the difficulty of absorbing the detailed documentation submitted in the short time available. This raises the practical question of how to improve the flow and accessibility of information collated and submitted in this area.
129. Especially since the enhanced reporting process on implementation of Article 66.2 was established by this Council in line with the request by Ministers at Doha, a large body of documentation has accumulated: the total of reports now amounting to over 2000 pages, with up to 200 further pages of information added each year – a measure both of the quantity of information available, but also of the challenges for tracking and analysing this information especially for delegations with limited practical capacity for detailed analysis of such complex documentation. The Council has in previous sessions considered the continuing cost and management issues in handling this kind of notification, given the considerable resources Members invest in the formatting, processing and translation of documentation.
130. At the practical level of the Secretariat, we have attempted to consider what logistical and administrative steps could be taken to improve the collection, management and dissemination of this information. It is noteworthy that many reports under this item do have common elements, and often lend themselves to a similar tabular or spreadsheet format. This kind of format certainly facilitates the handling of and access to such information, and suggests the possibility of using an online reporting tool, similar to the prototype that was informally demonstrated on the margins of the previous session of the Council.
131. Following the informal consultations with Members subsequently held on 12 September, we are working on an elaboration of this prototype for further consultation, recognizing the current practices of Members, and with an eye to the ongoing discussions in this Council, so as to facilitate and speed up reporting under this item. To the extent that there are some common elements in all reported information, it may be possible to enable online submission of updates as an optional pathway for Members reporting under this item, again strictly respecting the bounds of formal reporting requirements, and without prejudice to the ongoing discussions between Members in the Council concerning the LDC Group's proposal for a standard reporting format.
132. Use of such a reporting tool would facilitate the capture of data and speed up its circulation and accessibility for review by its intended readers, including in other working languages. This step would save resources, but more importantly should better serve the information needs of the Members concerned more effectively and more efficiently. The evolving format of the approach taken by Members in their most recent submissions, and the discussions and practical guidance received in the course of the workshop earlier this week, do seem to suggest that we can move usefully in this direction, but we shall of course take care to consult with Members as improved tools are developed and elaborated.