In Focus

Research Paper 199, 10 June 2024

A Toss Up? Comparing Tax Revenues from the Amount A and Digital Service Tax Regimes for Developing Countries

By Vladimir Starkov and Alexis Jin

In this paper, we attempt to estimate the tax revenues to be gained by the Member States of ATAF, WATAF, AU and the South Centre under the Amount A and an alternative stylized DST taxation regime. Our research demonstrates that the comparative revenue effects of the Amount A and DST taxation regimes largely depend on (a) the mix of relevant domestic economic activities at market jurisdictions (i.e., revenues sourced to the country as a market jurisdiction under Amount A and the level of revenues from automated digital services generated in the country), (b) design details of the DST regime such as the DST tax rate and the nature of activities to be taxed and (c) the relief from double taxation, if any, countries will grant to domestic and foreign taxpayers under DST. This paper contains analysis relying on sources of information available to private sector researchers and it does not involve review of any information that individual taxpayers provided to tax authorities.

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South Centre Statement – IHRs 2005 Amendment, May 2024

Statement on the Amendment to the International Health Regulations

We congratulate the WHO members for the adoption of the  amendments to the International Health Regulations to advance equity in access to health products, increase collaboration and finance to develop, strengthen and maintain core capacities. Efforts must continue to finalise a pandemic treaty.

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SouthViews No. 265, 31 May 2024

On the Forty-eighth Session of UNCITRAL Working Group III

By Jose Manuel Alvarez Zarate

The forty-eighth session of UNCITRAL Working Group III (WGIII) on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) reform was held in New York from April 1-5, 2024. The WGIII made significant progress in various reform areas. The European Union’s proposal for a permanent Multilateral Investment Court is advancing, albeit with mixed support. A Code of Conduct, developed with ICSID and adopted in 2023, remains contentious. Likewise, discussions focused on the draft statute for an Advisory Centre on International Investment Dispute Settlement, revised guidelines for dispute prevention, and a draft statute for a Permanent Mechanism for ISDS. Despite progress, core criticisms of the ISDS system—transparency, balance of rights, and rule clarity—remain inadequately addressed. This document considers some of the progress made and the need to provide more time for discussions on procedural and cross-cutting issues, which are crucial for developing countries to achieve balanced and inclusive outcomes.

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Research Paper 198, 31 May 2024

What Can Cambodia Learn from Thailand and India as It Prepares to Graduate from Least Developed Country Status?

By Brigitte Tenni, Deborah Gleeson, Joel Lexchin, Phin Sovath, and Chalermsak Kittitrakul

Cambodia is expected to graduate from Least Developed Country status soon, at which time it will be required to make patents available for pharmaceutical products and processes to meet its obligations under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Given its impending transition from LDC status, there is a need to balance Cambodia’s intellectual property (IP) policies and regulations with public health priorities to ensure access to affordable life-saving medicines. This will be critical to achieving universal health coverage, one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This paper examines Cambodia’s IP laws and regulations to identify provisions that could reduce access to affordable generic medicines when it starts granting patents for pharmaceuticals. It systematically compares Cambodia’s IP laws and regulations with those of Thailand and India – two developing countries that have had some successes in preserving access to medicines despite the introduction of pharmaceutical patents. It identifies lessons for Cambodia from the experiences of Thailand and India in implementing TRIPS and using TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licensing to ensure access to a sustainable supply of affordable generic medicines. Key recommendations for reform for Cambodia include strengthening the use of preventive and remedial TRIPS flexibilities and removing criminal sanctions for patent infringements. Cambodia should reject any TRIPS-plus provisions in its patent legislation and avoid membership in bilateral or plurilateral trade agreements that include TRIPS-plus provisions as well as signing patent treaties and memorandums of understanding  that may facilitate the granting of unwarranted patents.

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Research Paper 197, 28 May 2024

Compulsory Licensing as a Remedy Against Excessive Pricing of Life-Saving Medicines  

By Behrang Kianzad

The COVID-19 crisis intensified decade-long debates on the interaction between intellectual property rights (IPRs), competition law and access to affordable life-saving treatments and vaccines. Compulsory licensing of patented medicines is a tried-and-tested method to expand access, particularly in a situation of “national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency” within the meaning of Article 31(b) of the TRIPS Agreement. Some legislations, such as European competition law, offer a toolbox for curbing the exercise of IPRs if they would be found in conflict with certain competition rules, such as rules prohibiting excessive pricing by dominant undertakings. The paper analyses the interface between intellectual property law and competition law in general, moving on to the settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on this matter. It provides a general overview of legal and economics arguments related to excessive pricing prohibition and the main case law of European competition law on the matter and discusses whether compulsory licensing as a remedy against excessive pricing of patented life-saving pharmaceutical products can be a viable and appropriate remedy. Finally, the paper offers policy recommendations relating to compulsory licensing based on excessive pricing.

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South Centre Statement – WHA77, 27 May 2024

Statement of the South Centre to the 77th WHA

Agenda Item 3

A critical week for global health with the 77th session of the World Health Assembly. For decision, the future of the pandemic instrument and IHR amendment negotiations.

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SC Statement – NAM Health Ministers Meeting, WHA77, 25 May 2024

STATEMENT BY CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, AT THE VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE MINISTERS OF HEALTH OF THE MEMBER STATES AND OBSERVER STATES OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT

 25 May 2024

On the sidelines of the 77th session of the World Health Assembly

There is a need for a stronger and more effective WHO, which should be at the centre of norm-setting and moral guidance. NAM can play a key role in shaping the global health agenda. As in the past, the South Centre remains ready to support NAM efforts in this field.

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G-24 South Centre Call for Papers

G-24 South Centre Call For Papers: Comparing tax revenues to be generated from United Nations and OECD Subject To Tax Rule (STTR)

Deadline – 1 July 2024

The G-24 and the South Centre have launched this Call For Papers providing funding for studies which can produce country level comparative revenue estimates of the UN and OECD STTR on the 65 combined Member States of the South Centre (available here) and the G-24 (available here). The data should clearly provide how much revenue each Member State will get if they opt for the UN STTR vs the OECD STTR. The objective is to help Member States of both intergovernmental organizations make informed decisions on adopting the version of the STTR which is more beneficial to them.

Member States of the G-24 and the South Centre are advised to wait till the publication of the results of this study before taking a decision on whether or not to sign the OECD STTR MLI.

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Policy Brief 129, 7 May 2024

The WIPO Diplomatic Conference for a Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

A new international legal instrument is set to be concluded under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in May 2024. Its legal nature should be that of an international treaty, given that a Diplomatic Conference, the last treaty making stage, will be held for its conclusion. The purpose of the instrument (hereinafter “the Treaty”) is to create an international minimum standard for patent applicants to provide information concerning the origin or source of the genetic resources or traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources as part of the patent application process. This Policy Brief provides an overview of the rationale for the Treaty and of the process and substantive issues to be negotiated, and advances recommendations towards ensuring a successful conclusion of the Diplomatic Conference.

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SouthViews No. 263, 1 May 2024

The Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources Within the African Continental Free Trade Area – Alignment with International and Regional Developments  

By Caroline B. Ncube

The adoption of the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights under the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area presents an opportune moment to consider a continental framework for the protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources. This SouthViews considers lessons which can be drawn from national laws, using South Africa as an example, for the relevant Annex to be negotiated under the protocol.

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