TRADE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER Studying whether the WTO should have more specific measures

A number of provisions in the WTO agreements refer to the need for technology transfer to take place between developed and developing countries. But it is not clear how it takes place in practice and if specific measures might be taken within the WTO to encourage such flows of technology.

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The Doha Declaration

WTO ministers decided in Doha to establish a working group to examine the issue. The working group will report to the General Council which itself will report to the Cancún Ministerial Conference.


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Since then... 

The working group has examined a number of studies by the Secretariat and a number of proposals from the members.

A group of developing countries has suggested focusing on the following points:

  • to examine WTO provisions related to technology transfer with a view to making them operational and meaningful
  • to look at WTO provisions which have the effect of hindering transfer of technology to developing countries (including intellectual property)
  • to examine restrictive practices adopted by multinational enterprises in the area of technology transfer
  • to examine the impact of developed countries’ tariff peaks (relatively high tariffs) and tariff escalation (higher tariffs on processed products than on raw materials and components) on technology transfer
  • to examine the difficulties developing countries face in meeting the standards set by different agreements because they lack the relevant technology
  • to examine the need for and desirability of internationally agreed disciplines on technology transfer
  • to examine possible internationally agreed commitments on technology transfer

Repeatedly, developed countries have emphasized the danger in coercing the private sector into giving away its technology. Developed countries believe that this would reduce the appeal for foreign direct investment.