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Hong Kong, China - 2005


Exporting knowledge

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 this 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  back to top

WTO ministers decided in Doha to establish a working group to examine the issue, and also any possible recommendations on steps that might be taken within the WTO to increase flows of technology.

The working group reports to the General Council. The working group has examined a number of studies by the Secretariat and by other institutions such as UNCTAD, and also proposals from the members. In addition, members share successful policies and strategies that facilitated the transfer of technology.


Since then …  back to top

A group of developing countries has suggested focusing on WTO provisions related to technology transfer with a view to making them operational and meaningful, as well as looking at the ones that have the effect of hindering the flows. They also proposed the examination of restrictive practices adopted by multinational enterprises in this sector. A group of countries advocate that it is important to define the issues, measures and channels for technology transfer to move the work forward. However, so far there is no consensus on those matters.

In mid-2005 Cuba presented a list of possible recommendations that should be presented to the General Council, reiterating the importance of the discussions in the Working Group. Some members believe there is still a lot of work before reaching a definition of the linkage between trade and transfer of technology, and therefore it is premature to discuss possible recommendations. Moreover, 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.

 Other material:
> Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology
> Doha declaration
> Doha declaration explained