Trade Policy at Work

On the Table at MC11: TRIPS-related issues

The architecture of the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) accords the WTO members the sovereignty to promulgate rules of a sui generis (unique to their socioeconomic circumstances) nature, for purposes of maximising intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. Despite the foregoing, the developing country members are still faced with pulls and pressures not only with regard to compliance and enforceability of their TRIPs obligations, but most importantly ensuring that TRIPs provisions reflect and deliver their socio-economic needs. Part of the reason is that the TRIPs Agreement is silent on obligations of the developed country members with respect to issues of development assistance and sharing of royalties. This silence is reflected in the ‘best endeavour’ language, which does not compel the developed country members to aid the developing country members. There are four core issues linked to TRIPs and development: Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPs Agreement, Geographical Indications (GI), Traditional Knowledge (TK), and Non-Violation Complaints (NVC).