No specific proposals on Trips at WTO

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New Delhi, Jul 26 (UNI) The Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) chair headed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store today failed to come up with specific proposals because of 'diametrically opposed' positions adopted by some countries during negotiations at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

In his report to the all-powerful trade negotiations committee, Mr Store said he would, however continue discussions with member-countries in the view of the progress made by them on agriculture and industrial goods.

''I will be looking to delegations to intensify their engagement and hopefully their willingness to show flexibility and creativity on these TRIPS issues,'' the chair was quoted as saying on WTO website.

Describing his consultation with members as 'constructive', Mr Store said they participated in meetings with an open mind but ''without giving up any of their initial positions''.

He said, ''we have not yet reached a point where I am in a position to put forward specific proposals''.

The WTO has agreed to hold informal consultations on a possible amendment to TRIPS, to guard against bio-piracy and expanding the list of specially-protected geographical indications (GIs) after pressure from about 100 countries, led by India and the EU.

Initially, discussions on an amendment to TRIPS were not part of the ongoing mini-ministerial which has now been extended to next week. India and the EU, however, had been urging the WTO secretariat on behalf of 100 countries to make it part of the consultations.

India, which has fought a number of cases against the developed countries to protect its traditional knowledge, such as the medicinal properties of 'neem', has been pushing for strengthening of rules to check bio-piracy at the WTO.

The TRIPS amendment, discussed in relation to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), would require patent applicants to disclose the origin of genetic material and traditional knowledge used in the invention. The applicants would also be required to show that they have received permission to use the materials and knowledge, and they are sharing the benefits with the original owners. This would go a long way in checking bio-piracy by developed countries, mainly the US, against developing countries.

The GIs identify a good as originating from a particular place with which its reputation gets associated. At present, the WTO extends enhanced GI protection to only wines and spirits. Some countries, including the EU and Switzerland, are pushing for enhancement of the GIs list. The move would also benefit India, which could use it to protect its products such as Darjeeling tea and Alphonso mangoes.

UNI SAA RSA NS1259

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