Monday, June 09, 2008

India’s position on bio-piracy and TRIPS in WTO talks

  • INDIA has insisted that the issue of amending the trade-related intellectual property rights agreement (TRIPS) to check bio-piracy should be made part of the upcoming “horizontal process” in which senior officials and trade ministers from key countries would meet to agree on the modality texts for liberalising trade in agriculture, industrial goods and other issues.
  • But wait a minute. What is this ‘horizontal process’?
    • 'Horizontal process' is the term given to a process of prior negotiations at Senior Official level in the WTO talks. Prior talks on trade issues at the senior official level, even before the Ministerial level talks commence, is believed to help the Ministerial meets to quickly close the gaps that exist in their positions and give commitments for the trade agreements. This was done at the behest of the Director General Pascal Lamy in April 2008 in the context of agriculture and NAMA (Non Agricultural Market Access) talks.
    • Horizontal process provides a means of giving sufficient reassurance that all the other negotiating issues are advancing as they should.
  • While reading this article I came across the term ‘non-paper.’ A group of about 100 countries have reportedly submitted a “non-paper” to the trade negotiations committee of the WTO proposing that three intellectual property issues, including amendment of TRIPS agreement related to biodiversity, extension of the higher level of protection for geographical indications currently only required for wines and spirits, and the issue of creating a multilateral register for geographical indications of wines and spirits, should be part of the horizontal process. What is a non-paper in the context of WTO talks?
    • It is a proposed agreement or negotiating text circulated informally among delegations for discussion without committing the originating delegation's country to the contents.
  • If you want to know more about such trade related terms look at this glossary.