707. In the interest of transparency, we wanted to update the Council on the WTO Secretariat's input to the HLP process. As with other agencies, the WTO Secretariat was invited to take part on the Expert Advisory Group and, in the course of doing so, was invited by the HLP to provide background information to assist the Panel in its work. Our background note is actually available on the website of the HLP for some time, but there are hard copies also available at the back of the room. The important point, of course, was that this background note was prepared just at the level of Secretariat; it was not presented as representing an official view of the WTO or its Members, but was a technical input based on the experience of the Secretariat, particularly in its technical cooperation work in this area and above all in its cooperative work with other agencies in this field.
708. The key points covered included the significance of coherence for public health ranging from the international legal framework to concrete practical initiatives and ensuring there are positive feedback loops between each of those distinct levels. It noted the significance of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health as a kind of blueprint for coherence and described how this has helped to catalyse coherence in the work of the WTO itself, but also in its work with diverse partners. There was a focus based on practical experience on building national capacity for informed and coherent policy-making and in particular building national capacity for assessing and applying policy options within the broader policy options and flexibilities within the broader TRIPS framework. The background note refers to the WTO Secretariat experience of technical cooperation in partnership with other agencies. It is noted that the HLP Report mentions areas where that could continue.
709. Another general observation is that we are looking at a moving target. The challenge of developing and implementing effective and equitable policy measures for innovation and access, being dynamic by its very nature, evolving with the disease burden, involving with progress and technology and the diversification of innovation systems, has led to the observation that there would be sustained benefits from encouraging inclusive cross-cutting policy dialogue across the multilateral system. This enables mutual learning, cooperation and coordination to meet the challenges lying ahead as well as policy coherence supported by a stronger empirical foundation through greater transparency and accessibility of data and efforts to enable policy responses to be based on an integrated approach to health, trade and IP data.
710. The note then refers then, for example, to the significance of the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for coherence, as well as the experience with the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as a blueprint for coherence with a discussion of its catalysing effect on our technical cooperation and our support for our Members in reviewing and developing national approaches for policy options and flexibilities - looking at, in particular, the work done in partnership with other international organizations, such as the Trilateral Symposium and the Trilateral Study that have been mentioned.
711. The background note describes in a practical sense the different forms of policy coherence and the way they fit together at the different levels including from the international level through to the very practical level – the level of specific initiatives and the role of specific programmes and initiatives and everything in between those two levels.
712. Finally, it describes the value of coherence in trade policy settings as a means of providing an enabling environment for the application of TRIPS flexibilities and how trade policy choices can enhance the effect of TRIPS flexibilities in practice. Given the particular focus of many presentations to the HLP, it refers to the significance of enforcement measures and the balance concerning enforcement measures that are provided for in the TRIPS Agreement, the role of competition policy, as referred to in the TRIPS Agreement itself and compulsory licensing as a key area of discussion and analysis. In particular, the note discusses the role of compulsory licensing in international trade, as well as a specific background on the practical implementation of what is described as the trade-related compulsory licence – that is the special compulsory licences for export under the Paragraph 6 System - and offers some practical observations on the implementation of that mechanism in the contemporary access to medicines environment.