Title: Setting Global Trade Rules on Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) – Opportunities, Challenges, Perspectives and the impact on developing countries, specific to Small, vulnerable economies (SVEs), small island developing States (SIDs), and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Notification and Transparency Issues in the WTO and the US’ November 2018 Communication
Various WTO Members submitted a Communication to the WTO in November 2018 which, if accepted, would affect the implementation of Members’ transparency and notification obligations at the WTO. It would strengthen the already burdensome notification obligations and introduce new punitive administrative measures should obligations not be complied with. This paper provides information about WTO Members’ current notification obligations and their level of compliance; looks at the history of discussions on notifications, particularly in the Working Group on Notification Obligations and Procedures which took place in 1995 – 1996; and provides an analysis of the Communication. The analysis focuses on the extent to which the elements are consistent with or go beyond the current WTO disciplines. It concludes that non-compliance with notification obligations is real. However, rather than expanding obligations and introducing punitive measures, constructive and effective solutions should be based on nuancing of obligations in the context of a Special and Differential Treatment approach and through the use of incentives. It also acknowledges that countries with a chronic lack of capacities will continue to struggle with the WTO’s complex notification obligations and requirements until they attain higher levels of development and, thus, improved institutional capacities.
Why the US Proposals on Development will Affect all Developing Countries and Undermine WTO
US submitted two highly problematic proposals to the WTO in January and February 2019, undermining the place of Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) for developing countries at the WTO. In the first paper (WT/GC/757), US criticises the practice of self-declared development status by developing countries arguing that the North-South construct no longer makes sense due to “great development strides”. The second paper (WT/GC/764) – a proposed Decision for the General Council – provides a way to operationalise what was in the first paper. It gave criteria that would exclude 34 Members or 53.6 percent of global population from S&D treatment in “current and future WTO negotiations”. This fundamentally changes S&D from an unconditional right for all developing countries to a concession that may or may not be provided. Even for those developing countries that are not part of the 34 excluded Members, the US notes that in sector-specific negotiations, other Members could also be “ineligible for special and differential treatment.” This paper critiques the US approach on Special and Differential Treatment and concludes that these papers by the US cannot be the basis for any further discussions. All developing countries must be able to decide the pace of their adjustment to trade rules.
Will the Amendment to the TRIPS Agreement Enhance Access to Medicines?
An amendment to the TRIPS Agreement by incorporation of the text of the decision of the WTO General Council on 30 August 2003 (as article 31bis) has been made in response to the problem identified in paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. This paragraph sought a solution to situations where patented pharmaceuticals which are not available in a country with no or insufficient manufacturing capacity can be supplied by a foreign provider. As originally adopted, the TRIPS Agreement did not allow the grant of compulsory licenses for exports only, thereby preventing generic manufacturers from exporting the required products to countries unable to produce them. While the new article 31bis is a step forward as it reflects public health concerns, it would be necessary to streamline the procedures to effectively ensure broader access to pharmaceutical products at low cost and in a timely manner.
History and Politics of Climate Change Adaptation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
This research paper provides a perspective on how climate change adaptation has progressed in the multilateral space, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It describes adaptation and financial institutions under the climate regime and the current scope of their activities. The paper highlights the challenges that lie ahead, particularly around financing, for developing countries to adapt to a rapidly warming world and presents recommendations for the governments to accord higher priority to adaptation.
South Centre Statement to the WIPO Assemblies 2018
The South Centre is the intergovernmental organization of developing countries with 54 member States across Africa, Asia and Central and Latin America, that is supportive of multilateral work towards an inclusive, balanced and flexible international intellectual property system that benefits all countries and all types of users.
South Centre Statement to the 26th Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP)
The 26th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) is meeting this week at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva. The South Centre is participating in the current session of the SCP as an observer. The following statement was delivered by the South Centre on the first day of the current session of the SCP.
This paper discusses the current negotiation issues in the context of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the position the African Group has taken in these negotiations. (more…)
South Centre Statement on the Amendment to the WTO TRIPS Agreement to Ease Access to Affordable Medicine
An amendment to the TRIPS Agreement that aims to facilitate the access to affordable medicines has entered into force upon approval by two thirds of the WTO members. The amendment reflects the recognition by WTO Members of the need for the continued enhancement of global intellectual property rules to allow Members to systematically take measures to protect public health.
The WTO’s Special and Differential Treatment Negotiations (Paragraph 44)
Paragraph 44 of the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration mandates the ‘strengthening’ of Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) provisions in the WTO Agreement, and making them ‘more precise, effective and operational’. This Note tracks the evolution of these negotiations from the start of the Doha Round in 2001 until the Nairobi Ministerial in December 2015. (more…)