THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
The official record is in the meeting’s minutes.
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Participants to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) — Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States — said their main aim was to strengthen enforcement against proliferation of counterfeit goods. They stressed that ACTA does not target generic medicines nor would interfere with legitimate access to the Internet. They also said that the agreement is transparent, and that the full text is available to the public.
India said ACTA could undermine the TRIPS Agreement, and limit developing countries’ access to affordable medicine. It said that ACTA puts the interest of big companies ahead of consumers, citing cases of seizures by customs at European ports of generic medicines. China said many provisions of ACTA go beyond the TRIPS provisions. Brazil said one-size fits-all approach was not advisable. Bangladesh expressed concern that least-developed countries (LDCs) will lose flexibilities and access to generic medicine. Ecuador, Egypt and Thailand also expressed concerns.
The Dominican Republic said that Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 was inconsistent with the TRIPS Agreement, and that it would destroy the value of trademarks and limit information for consumers. It said it was not unaware of the health risks of tobacco but believed Australia could have chosen other measures that would have been consistent with the TRIPS Agreement. Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Ukraine and Zimbabwe also expressed concerns about compatibility of the Australian measure with the TRIPS Agreement.
Australia said that the measure was adopted by the Australian Parliament last November, and that it would be implemented at retail level on 1 December 2012. It defended the measure as taken in the interest of public health, and based on a broad range of studies. Canada, New Zealand and Norway expressed general support for Australia. The World Health Organization, speaking as an observer, endorsed the Australian measure, noting that tobacco use kills 6 million people every year, and is a major cause of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
The Council continued its discussion of the agenda items on the review of the provisions of Article 27.3(b), the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore. It requested the Chair to continue the consultations on the suggestion that the CBD Secretariat be invited to brief the Council on the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Under the item on non-violation and situation complaints, the Chair drew the Council’s attention to the decision of the 8th Ministerial Conference to extend the moratorium on such complaints until the 9th Session to be held in 2013. The Council requested the Chair to consult on how the Council should organize its continued examination of the scope and modalities for such complaints.
The Council took up agenda items on the review of the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement under Article 71.1 and the review of the application of the provisions of the section on geographical indications under Article 24.2, and followed up its ninth annual review of developed country members’ reports on their implementation of Article 66.2.
The Council continued its discussion on LDC priority needs for technical and financial cooperation.
The European Union presented a comprehensive report on its technical cooperation activities for LDCs.
The Chair drew the Council’s attention to the decision by the General Council to extend the period of acceptances of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement until 31 December 2013. He also drew attention to the decision of the 8th Ministerial Conference concerning the transition period for LDCs under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.
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