No. 23
March 2012
International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property
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Report from the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference December 15-17, 2011
Ivan Hjertman, IP Interface AB respectively Australian Customs and Border Protection Service,Stockholm, Sweden and Melanie Jose,IP Interface AB respectively Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Canberra, Australia

The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15 to 17 December 2011 (MC8).

It was decided by the Bureau that AIPPI would be represented at the MC8 by Ivan Hjertman (Chair) and Melanie Jose (Secretary) of AIPPI Special Committee Q94 WTO/TRIPS.

It had been expressly stated in the run-up to MC8 both from the WTOand media reports, that the Doha Round negotiations generally had come to an impasse. The principal stumbling block was reported to be the negotiations on “NAMA” (Non-Agricultural Market Access). Several TRIPS issues that had been the subject of much discussion, in particular GIs and TRIPS/CBD, had already, earlier in 2011, been side-lined to some extent. This was reflected in the very general agenda of the Conference as well in the submissions made. All statements from Ministers and groups of WTO Members, and other information for the MC8, is available on under Official documents/WTO documents online/Relating to a particular subject area/WTO document series/2011/Ministerial meetings.

The conference report from Ivan Hjertman and Melanie Jose can be found here.

AIPPI´s representatives attended the sessions which were open to NGOs, namely the Opening Session, the Plenary Sessions during the main conference, and the Closing Session. Three Working Sessions were held in parallel with the Plenary Sessions, but these Working Sessions were closed to NGOs. These Working Sessions covered the following three topics:
  • Importance of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO;

  • Trade and Development; and

  • The Doha Development Agenda negotiations.

The approval by the MC8 of the accession package of The Russian Federation after 18 years of negotiations was a highlight of the conference. The accession packages of Samoa and Montenegro were also approved. The WTO had already approved Vanuatu´s accession package on 26 October 2011. Following national ratification procedures, these countries will become full WTO Members. The Russian Federation, for example, has until June 2012 to complete its national ratification, and its membership will become final 30 days after national ratification.

In the final session on Saturday 17 December, Ministers adopted a number of decisions relating to:
  • intellectual property;

  • e-commerce;

  • small economies;

  • difficulties of the accession process for least developed countries;

  • a services waiver for least developed countries; and

  • trade policy reviews.

Although the TRIPS issues noted above were downplayed at the WTO MC8 and mentioned by just a few delegations, namely: Bangladesh, Guatemala, Peru, Italy, Uganda, Haiti, Honduras, Niger, Guinea, Samoa (as an Observer), Mauretania, Cambodia and Ecuador, these issues will certainly remain on the international IP agenda. For example, two of the decisions taken at the MC8 are TRIPS-related, namely:
  • a decision to extend until the next Ministerial Conference, to be held in 2013, the moratorium on what is called “non-violation complaints” under the TRIPS Agreement; and

  • an instruction to the TRIPS Council to extend, under TRIPS Article 66.1, the transition period expiring on 30 June 2013, for Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) for implementing the TRIPS Agreement.

Some implications from the WTO MC8 for AIPPI work on TRIPS related issues are suggested in the report prepared by AIPPI´s representatives.
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