[Ip-health] IP-Watch: WTO General Council Agrees To 2-Year Extension For TRIPS Health Amendment Acceptance

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Dec 4 01:50:13 PST 2017


WTO General Council Agrees To 2-Year Extension For TRIPS Health Amendment


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The World Trade Organization General Council today agreed to a two-year
extension for countries to adopt an amendment to the agency’s intellectual
property agreement intended to help small economies get affordable medical
products. But a decision on non-violation complaints will be left to the
December WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires.

The General Council is the WTO’s highest decision-making body in Geneva,
meeting regularly at the ambassador level. The 11th WTO trade ministerial
conference will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 10-13 December.

TRIPS Public Health Amendment

A 2005 amendment to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) codified a waiver to TRIPS patent
protections to allow more medical products produced under compulsory
licence to be exported to small countries that lack manufacturing

The amendment is often referred to as the “Paragraph 6” system, referring
to paragraph 6 of the 2001 Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. A
temporary waiver was agreed on 30 August 2003, and was then approved
without change as the first and only amendment to the TRIPS agreement on 6
December 2005.

Two-thirds of WTO members need to accept this protocol by formally
ratifying it. Yet with new entries to the WTO, this has been a moving
target. The WTO list of members who have accepted the amendment is here.

Non-Violation Complaints

Meanwhile, the Council did not resolve a question of whether to extend a
moratorium keeping TRIPS out of disputes between WTO members in which one
accuses another of harming their expected benefits despite not having
technically violated a WTO agreement.

The current longstanding moratorium on such “non-violation complaints” is
set to expire at the December ministerial.

The issue will now go directly to Buenos Aires for ministers to try and
solve it, unless something happens before in Geneva, which seems very
unlikely, an informed source said.

Switzerland and the United States have sought to end the moratorium, but
some other countries have shown reluctance (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 20 October

There was no debate in the Council on the issues today, the source said,
but rather members were informed by the General Council chair.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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