ATC101117: Report Visit to the World Trade Organisation on 19 – 23 July 2010

Trade and Industry

The Report of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the visit to the World Trade Organisation on 19 – 23 July 2010, dated 17 November 2010

 

The Committee having visited the World Trade and Organisation, as well as other organisation, reports as follow:

 

 

1.       Introduction

 

South Africa is a strong proponent of multilateralism as the necessary inter-governmental response to managing globalisation and the deepening interdependence of national economies. The marginalisation of many countries in the global economy, particularly those in Africa, and the question of coherence in global economic policy-making constitute key challenges confronting the international community, in the context of an integrating global economy.

 

While multilateral rules are important, established rules are often imbalanced and prejudicial to the developmental interests of developing countries. This requires reform of current systems of global economic governance. The reform of global institutions should be aimed at ensuring greater transparency and inclusiveness in the workings and outcomes of these institutions. There is a growing appreciation that the legitimacy and sustainability of these institutions is in ensuring that the developmental interests of developing countries are advanced as these regions will constitute the sources of global growth and prosperity in the world economy.

 

Our world is changing rapidly and there are profound and unmistakable shifts exposed by the recent economic crisis that reveal a shift in global economic dynamics. There is also a growing recognition that developing states and economies hold the key to the future of developed countries.

 

In this globalising world economy, the WTO has moved to centre stage in an evolving system of global economic governance. The establishment of the WTO marked the emergence of a strengthened rules-based international trading system that provides enhanced certainty and security for market access. The WTO reduces the scope for unilateral trade measures and aims to ensure that economic interactions, including the resolution of disputes, are governed by a system of rules, and not solely by the interplay of economic power. This is the essential contribution of the WTO to global economic governance. Nevertheless, the outcome of the Uruguay Round responded mainly to the concerns and interests of developed countries. From the perspective of developing countries, WTO agreements exhibit a range of imbalances and deficiencies that are prejudicial to their trade and development interests. Further, the agreements, designed in the main by industrialised countries, reflect the concerns of sophisticated economies and presuppose an institutional, human and financial base that is often lacking in developing countries.

 

The Committee’s recognition that South Africa's support for launch of the Doha Round

of negotiations was based on assessment that negotiations opened up the possibility to decisively address issues of development in the world trading system. To achieve sustained global economic growth, developing countries must pursue industrialization in sectors where they possess comparative advantage. Given the Committee’s position crystallized after deliberating on the Trade Policy in the first part of the year the Committee took a decision to go to Geneva for an intensive Study Visit to reach a broader understanding from a wide range of stakeholders including the WTO directorate.

 

1.1       Developmental outcomes  developing countries want from Doha Round

 

Processes and consequences of globalisation are fundamentally altering the way countries integrate into the global economy through trade[1]. The need to achieve more balanced global trading relations, in the context of the Doha Round of negotiations, is imperative if South Africa wants to achieve its developmental goals. Government policy therefore should be aligned with its global partners in order to achieve the developmental outcomes.

 

Given the issues under debate within the Doha Round – services, agriculture, intellectual property, new issues such as investment, competition, trade facilitation, government procurement as well as a focus on Africa and development issues – in preparation for the conclusion of the Round it become imperative that the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry meets its counterparts. This is to develop a common position around these matters to secure a developmental outcome that would benefit the South-South countries. Therefore capacity building for Members on WTO principles, negotiations strategies and processes was imperative to ensure that Members of the South African Parliament are able to formulate a position in preparation for the final negotiations.

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In light of the above, the Committee’s Revised Strategic Plan for 2010/11 emphasised greater oversight over trade negotiations and the implementation of IPAP2, as well as its capacity building. Being a strategic committee, it must ensure that it is aware of the progress and implications of all negotiations with respect to the World Trade Organisation’s trade negotiations, as well as other bilateral or multilateral trade agreements. This is to ensure a developmental outcome of the Doha Round of negotiations.

 

Currently the WTO is in the process of finalising preparation for the next round of Doha negotiations. These negotiations would focus on finalising the mandates on the various areas of negotiation.

 

During the Committee’s recent hearings on the South African Trade Policy and Strategic Framework, it expressed the need that Parliament should be given adequate time to formulate and develop a position that should be considered when the executive negotiate international and regional trade agreements. A conclusion reached by the Committee was that Parliament should consider reviewing its rules relating to how it processes or deals with international trade agreements, so that Parliament is involved at an earlier stage during the negotiation process. In this regard, Parliament would need to allocate adequate resources for its involvement during the negotiation process of international trade agreements.

 

Furthermore, the Committee is currently processing the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill [B8-2010]. During the initial engagement on the Bill, the Committee concluded that the Bill is highly complex and that the Committee should proceed in processing it with caution. There was also recognition that assistance from experts on Intellectual Property laws and Indigenous Knowledge was required.

 

1.2    Preparation Process for Study Visit

 

In light of the above and in line with its strategic objectives, the Committee embarked on an extensive engagement with the South African Trade Mission, as well as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), South Centre and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in Geneva from 19 – 23 July 2010. This study tour was to ensure that Parliament was in a position to play a more active role in developing a position on key areas under discussion.  Furthermore, with the assistance of the mission – organisations such as World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) was identified that could assist the Committee in developing a deeper understanding of Intellectual Property laws and the protection of Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge.

 

The following Members of Parliament and the Secretariat participated in the study tour in Geneva:

 

1.       Ms J Fubbs (ANC) – Leader of the delegation

2.       Mr B Radebe (ANC)

3.       Ms H Line (ANC)

4.       Mr X Mabasa (ANC)

5.       Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC)

6.       Mr S Marais (DA)

7.       Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA)

8.       Ms C Kotsi (COPE)

9.       Adv A Alberts (FF+)

10.   Mr A Hermans – Committee Secretary

11.   Ms M Herling – Content Advisor

12.   Mr L Mahlangu – Researcher

 

A report on the interaction with the various organisations during our oversight visit follows below. Section 2 provides a description of each of the organisations visited. The inputs from the Committee’s engagements with these organisations are incorporated in Sections 3, 4 and 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.       International Organisations visited

 

2.1 World Intellectual Property Organisation[2]

 

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

 

WIPO was established by the WIPO Convention in 1967 with a mandate from its Member States to promote the protection of IP throughout the world through cooperation among states and in collaboration with other international organizations.

 

2.2 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development[3]

 

Established in 1964, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) promotes the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. UNCTAD has progressively evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work aims to help shape current policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.

 

The organization works to fulfil this mandate by carrying out three key functions:

 

·         It functions as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, supported by discussions with experts and exchanges of experience, aimed at consensus building.

·         It undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection for the debates of government representatives and experts.

·         It provides technical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of developing countries, with special attention to the needs of least developed countries and of economies in transition. When appropriate, UNCTAD cooperates with other organizations and donor countries.

 

In performing its functions, the Secretariat works together with member Governments and interacts with organizations of the United Nations system and regional commissions, as well as with governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, including trade and industry associations, research institutes and universities worldwide.

 

2.3 World Trade Organisation[4]

 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to create a rules-based framework for producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers to conduct their business. The WTO also administers agreements and provides a dispute settlement mechanism for countries.

 

2.4 South Centre[5]

 

The South Centre was established through an Intergovernmental Agreement (Treaty). It is an intergovernmental organization of developing countries which aims to promote and enhance South-South co-operation. Its establishment came as a result of a need to organise and mobilise South-South expertise to develop a position to enhance its bargaining power. Its core focus is to provide intellectual and policy support required by developing countries for collective and individual action in international fora.

 

According to Article II of the Intergovernmental Agreement, the Centre has the following core objectives:

 

·         To promote South solidarity, South consciousness and mutual knowledge and understanding among the countries and peoples of the South.

·         To promote various types of South-South co-operation and action, South-South links, networking and information exchange.

·         To contribute to South-wide collaboration in promoting common interests and co-ordinated participation by developing countries in international forums dealing with South-South and North-South matters, as well as with other global concerns.

·         To foster convergent views and approaches among countries of the South with respect to global economic, political and strategic issues related to evolving concepts of development, sovereignty and security.

·         To contribute to better mutual understanding and co-operation between the South and the North on the basis of equity and justice for all and, to this end, to the democratization and strengthening of the United Nations and its family of organizations.

 

2.5 International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development [6]

 

Founded in Geneva in September 1996, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) aims to influence the international trade system such that it advances the goal of sustainable development. As an independent, non-profit, and non-governmental organization, ICTSD engages a broad range of actors in ongoing dialogue on trade and sustainable development policy. In advancing its mission, the Centre has become a leading broker of knowledge and information on trade policy and sustainable development.

 

With a global network of governmental, non-governmental, and inter-governmental partners, ICTSD plays a unique, systemic role as a provider of original, non-partisan reporting and facilitation services. ICTSD advances trade policy that supports sustainable development by structuring interaction between policy-makers and key influencers who are often excluded from policymaking processes. ICTSD helps parties better understand the technical and political contexts that underlie their interests and the interests of those with whom they interact on policy issues. In this way, ICTSD builds bridges between groups with seemingly disparate agendas, enabling them to identify and progress on issues where their interests and priorities coincide.

 

ICTSD empowers stakeholders in trade policy through information, networking, dialogue, well-targeted research, and capacity building. It also identifies knowledge gaps in international trade rule- and policy-making from a sustainable development perspective; it mobilizes the best expertise around the world through dialogue and research to address those gaps in a solution-oriented way; it processes the knowledge generated through these processes so that it is applied and relevant for international policy making processes; and it delivers this knowledge to sustainable development constituencies in a timely manner.

 

To effectively fulfill these roles, ICTSD has developed a reflective, responsive, and opportunistic strategy. This three-pronged approach enables ICTSD to remain ahead of the game and to anticipate policy developments. At the same time, the Centre is responsive to external developments in its politically dynamic environment and adapts its programmes accordingly. Finally, it is opportunistic in exploiting strategic windows of opportunity in order to advance its mission.

 

 

3.       Intellectual Property Rights Issues

 

Currently before the Committee is the Intellectual Property Laws A/B [B8-2010] that seek to amend the Performers’ Protection (No. 11 of 1967), Copyright (No. 98 of 1978), Trade Marks (No. 194 of 1993) and Designs (No. 195 of 1993) Acts. During its initial engagement on the Bill with the local experts, the Department of Science and Technology, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, and the Eastern Cape branch of Contralesa, the Committee agreed that the issues are highly complex and that it would require further engagement with local and international experts before it could hold public hearings on the BillWIPO was identified as one of the organisations it would like to visit to gain a better understanding and insight on the protection of indigenous knowledge, as well as the ICTSD.

 

During the Committee’s visit in Geneva, the Committee met with WIPO and ICTSD to engage on the most current debates on Intellectual Property.

 

The session at WIPO focussed on the following:

 

·           The current challenges faced by WIPO.

·           The implementation of WIPO’s development agenda.

·           Work Programme on copyrights.

·           Work programme on Traditional Knowledge.

·           Trade Marks and Geographic indications.

 

 

3.1 Current challenges faced by WIPO

 

Mr John Tarpey, Director of the Communications Division: Global Issues Sector, briefed the Committee on the functioning of WIPO and in particular the International Regime in Intellectual Property (IP).  WIPO is a treaty-based organisation which administers 24 Intellectual Property Treaties. He informed the Committee that the digital age brought new challenges for the intellectual property regime with WIPO striving to meet the needs and expectations of all Member States.  

 

This requires an efficient IP system that would encourage innovations and find solutions to the emergence of complex issues. Critical for WIPO is to find creative ways to leverage innovation to overcome problems associated with the current challenges faced by WIPO such as climate change, public health and food security.  What must be developed is a global IP infrastructure that would address the needs of the IP system. The Developmental Agenda of WIPO intensified efforts to facilitate the use of IP in developing and least developing states.  

 

3.2 Work programme on Patents

 

Mr James Pooley, Deputy Director-General of the Innovation and Technology Sector, briefed the Committee on WIPO’s work programme on the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) with the key focus on the Patent Law Treaty. The SCP was established in 1998 to negotiate the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) which was adopted in 2000.

 

In order to harmonise substantive aspects of patent law, focusing on issues such as the definition of prior art, novelty, inventive steps/non-obvious and industrial applicability/utility, the drafting and interpretation of claims, and the requirement of sufficient disclosure of an invention, opened discussions in 2001 on a draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT). Agreement remains elusive on negotiations with respect to the SPLT with the resumption of its work in 2008 with the discussion of a report on the international patent system. One of the issues under discussion was the “exceptions from patentable subject matter and limitations to the rights, inter alia research exemptions and compulsory licences[7]”. The exception would facilitate the advancement of technical knowledge and innovation that could help address public health needs in developing countries.   

 

The ICTSD was of the view that too strong IP Rules could stifle follow-up innovation and that too weak IP rules would not act as an effective incentive for innovators and inventors. What is required is a rich and vibrant public domain that promotes creativity and innovation.  The key is to find an appropriate balance between private rights and public interest.

 

Public policy tension exists with patents, and similarly with traditional knowledge, in terms of public interest in both disclosure and not limiting access. Patents are a means of commercialising technology-related innovation moving towards strategic innovation. Currently, there are moves to open innovation that includes cooperation and partnerships, as well as network innovation, that looks at problem-solving within a network.

 

3.3 Implementation of WIPO development agenda

 

Mr Geoffrey Onyeama and Mr Irfan Baloch briefed the Committee on the implementation of the developmental agenda of WIPO. The agenda was approved in 2007 to incorporate a developmental dimension and process of norm setting to consider development issues.

 

In the Committee’s engagement with the ICTSD, views were expressed that the developmental agenda developed mainly through two sources. Firstly, through pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the way patents were used to limit access to medicine, and secondly, through a group of developing countries that recognised the danger of the harmonisation and consolidation of regulatory authority over the international patents system that would adversely affect their national interest[8].

 

The emergence of China, India and Brazil as major developing economies necessitated changes at WIPO to maintain and advance the modest successes achieved at the WTO in generating sensitivity towards social objectives. According to the ICTSD, the WIPO Developmental Agenda (DA) should facilitate access to knowledge and technology for developing countries and LDCs to foster creativity and innovation. The DA should promote a pro-competitive intellectual property licensing practise through greater interaction between Intellectual Property Rules/Regimes and competition policies.

 

During the Committee’s engagement with the ICTSD, it purported that the IP is not an end in itself but a means to promote creativity and innovation.

 

Currently, there are 45 recommendations for the Developmental Agenda which should get the buy-in of both developed and developing countries to ensure mainstreaming of developments in IP systems. This is also to promote a balanced IP system to promote innovation, investment in research and development and the access to knowledge and cultural goods.

 

In their engagement with the ICTSD, the Centre identified a key role for parliamentarians in implementing WIPO’s DA as well as IP laws within respective countries. Parliamentarians should:

 

·           Scrutinise the implications of new IP laws on public policy objectives and human rights obligations in relation to the protection of the environment and access to knowledge.

·           Ensure that national IP legislation takes advantage of the flexibilities available to developing countries under international and regional norms and that its cost does not outweigh its expected benefits.

·           Promote informed law making based on empirical evidence and a diverse range of views on IP from different stakeholders (government, private sector and consumers/civil society);

·           Solicit experts’ advice but ensure no conflict of interest.

·           Build in periodical reviews of IP legislation.

 

3.4 Work Programme on copyright

 

Mr Richard Owens, WIPO, briefed the Committee on the work programme of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) which focussed on developing international norms and standards in the area of copyright and related rights. He informed the Committee that the SCCR is currently considering the protection of broadcasting organisations and of audiovisual performances, as well as the expectations and limitations, related to special needs individuals. This includes access to content for visually impaired individuals, access by education institutions, archives, and libraries.

 

Also included in the agenda of the SCCR is how to define and measure the contribution of the “creative industries” to GDP and employment. Defining “creative industries” remains a concern as there is a large amount of employment and value-addition from creation to consumption.

 

Development and proliferation of digital technologies has brought to the fore the need to maintain the balance between the protection available to rights owners and the needs of specific user groups such as the visually impaired. Currently, audiovisual performances are not included in the WIPO Copyrights Treaty, and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms also known as the WIPO Internet Treaties. The development of best practices for visually-impaired individuals is required to produce a new digital version of the product.

 

With respect to who the copyright belongs to, WIPO was of the view that the author would be the initial owner of rights but in some countries a commissioned or employed author is not considered the owner but rather the commissioner of the work. This can, however, be limited to certain uses of the work. WIPO also informed the Committee that no copyright exists beyond a certain timeframe but that the rearrangement of work may give rise to independent protection. 

 

3.5 Trade Marks and Geographic indications

 

Ms Binayang Wang, the Deputy Director-General of the Brands and Design Sector, briefed the Committee on the work of the Standing Committee on Trade Marks, Industrial designs and Geographical Indications (SCT).  The SCT focuses on the international development of the law of trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications, including the harmonization of national laws and procedures.

 

Currently, WIPO is responsible for three registers, which are:

 

·         The Madrid System for the International registration of Marks, which allows a trade mark owner the possibility of having his/her trade mark protected in several countries.

·         The Hague System for the international Registration of Industrial Design provides a mechanism for registering a design in countries and/or in intergovernmental organizations. It allows the owner of an industrial design the possibility to have his/her design protected in several countries.

·         The Lisbon System for the International Registration of Appellation of Origin (AO) Registry. This system offers a means of obtaining protection for an AO in the contracting parties to the Lisbon Agreement through a single registration.

 

Ms Wang informed the Committee that the signing of the Singapore Treaty of Law of Trade Marks in 2006 harmonised administrative rules for trade mark registration. This treaty also recognised the different needs of developing countries by providing technical assistance and other support to strengthen the institutional capacity of developing countries.

 

Revenue earned through a trade mark is returned to a member state but a sharp decline in registration of trade marks has been experienced with a sharp increase in industrial design. Currently, advanced work on industrial design and trade mark and the internet environment is underway. The Madrid System is used in South Africa although it is not a signatory yet.

 

3.6 Work programme on Traditional Knowledge

 

Ms Olga Aguirre briefed the Committee on Traditional knowledge (TK), genetic resources (GR), and traditional cultural expressions (TCE). She informed the Committee that TK, GR and TCE are economic and cultural assets of the indigenous and local communities and their countries. WIPO focuses on the role that IP principles and systems can play in protecting TK and TCE from misappropriation. Ensuring that the necessary commercial benefits are derived from TK and TCE for the indigenous and local communities is very important. Although existing standards of IP may not protect TK, the evolution of IP may in future provide the necessary protection to TK. Currently, IP has become a global issue that affects many other areas including the challenge of domestic and international coordination of IP.

 

The creation of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore in 2000 was to provide a forum for discussion among member states on IP issues in the context of access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, the protection of TK and the protection of expression of folklore.

 

In his presentation, Mr Ahmed Abdel Latif of the ICTSD highlighted the recent case against South Africa on the use of drugs arguing that it was a landmark for IP. International pharmaceutical companies challenged the 1997 South African law which would give government the power to circumvent expensive patented medicines and produce or import cheap alternatives for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The challenge still remains with regarding to domestic and international coordination on IP issues. Rebalancing the global IP landscape from focusing on protecting rights but also promoting social rights and improving the quality of life through exceptions and flexibilities remains a challenge.

 

The ICTSD, in their presentation to the Committee, identified ongoing challenges in the protection of TK which are as follows:

 

·         Recent cases of bio-piracy – two recent cases from South Africa – Rooibos and honeybush noted that the recent patent applications by Nestle were in conflict with both South African law and the Convention of Biological Diversity. 

·         With respect to Pelargonium – A German firm filed a patent which related to a method for extracting substances with medicinal properties of Pelargonium. The patent was revoked after opposition from non-governmental organisations.

 

Currently, there is no agreement on the protection of TK given the examples of Rooibos and pelargonium.

 

 

4. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

 

UNCTAD is part of the United Nations and focuses on research and policy analysis related to trade and trade-related policies and focuses on developing countries. Programmes to assist developing countries include training for areas such as managing customs borders, debt management and investment policy frameworks. Work undertaken by UNCTAD is to assist countries to integrate into the global system. UNCTAD is seen as an alternative to the aggressive pro-market view of the traditional Bretton Woods institutions.

 

UNCTAD is of the view that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) refers to the minimum levels of development but do not focus on the real issues for development. UNCTAD recognises the need for an alternative development path and that the “business as usual” approach will not deliver on MDG goals. To achieve the MDGs, the economic agenda of developing countries should focus on the following:

 

·         Domestic resource mobilisation which require public as well as private investment linked to the productive capacities of the economy;

·         Addressing inequalities and ensuring redistribution of income;

·         Enhancing the developmental role of the State in achieving employment and reducing inequalities; and

·         Developing policies supportive of international architecture.

 

In response to a question by the Committee with respect to the global economic architecture and how one could rectify the current global imbalance, UNCTAD said that it would not abolish the existing institutions but rather re-visit their original mandates and rules.

 

 

 

5. World Trade Organisation

 

The Committee was welcomed by Ambassador Faizel Ismail and one of the deputy directors-general of the WTO, Ms Valentine Rugwabiza. Ms Rugwabiza highlighted that South Africa’s role in the WTO is widely recognised. South Africa has been active in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, advocating for a number of developing issues on behalf of its respective coalitions during the negotiations. She expressed her confidence in South Africa’s ability to diversify and grow its exports, trading partners and investment. Mr Ismail emphasised that South Africa is committed to the principle of multilateralism, as well as the WTO reflecting fair and balanced rules for developing nations. He also outlined that during its involvement in the negotiations, its key considerations are its own needs including for economic restructuring, access to markets and a fair deal for the nation.

 

Ms Rugwabiza welcomed the interest shown by the South African Parliament to understand the functioning of the WTO and the developments in the DDA. She shared that the role of parliamentarians was recognised as ensuring that all stakeholders’ interests are taken into account in the WTO negotiations. In this regard, WTO has been providing parliamentarians with regular newsletters and there will be a joint activity with IPU and WTO in November 2010 in Cameroon.

 

The sessions at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) focused on the following areas:

 

1.       Overview of Doha negotiations.

2.       Agriculture negotiations.

3.       Non-Agriculture Market Access Negotiations.

4.       WTO Technical Assistance.

5.       Negotiations for Trade in Services.

6.       Development Issues in the Doha Developmental Agenda (DDA) Negotiations.

7.       Overview of the Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Negotiations and the TRIPS and Public Health Agreement.

8.       Negotiations relating to Rules, including Regional Trade Agreements.

9.       Roundtable Discussion with key ambassadors on the DDA.

 

These are discussed below in further detail.

 

5.1 Overview of Doha negotiations

 

WTO negotiations have two critical processes or principles namely that negotiations are a single undertaking and can only be concluded when consensus has been reached by all members. Negotiations are held on the basis of transparency and inclusiveness. However, the main negotiations and drafting of the text occur in smaller groups which should be representative of the member countries.

 

The WTO negotiating structure consists of the Ministerial Conference, which provides political direction; the General Council; and the Trade Negotiations Committee, which establishes different groups or bodies to negotiate on its behalf chaired by ambassadors. The current agreements that are operating were agreed to during the Uruguay Round.

 

The Doha Round was launched in 2001 to ensure that developing countries’ needs were met by focusing on developmental issues. Most of the world’s economies (more than 153 countries) are involved in the Doha Round negotiations. However, countries that are waiting for accession are only allowed to participate in the negotiations but not in the decision-making process.

 

The Doha negotiations cover 19 to 21 subjects including agriculture (including the cotton dossier), services, industrial products under the Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) dealing with both tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs), intellectual property (especially a multilateral system for the declaration of geographical indications (GIs) for wines and spirits), WTO Rules on anti-dumping, subsidies (including fishery subsidies) and regional trade agreements, trade and environment, services, trade facilitation, dispute settlement and electronic commerce. The following issues and progress have been made under the key subjects:

 

·         Agriculture holds the key to concluding this Round. It covers issues of market access; domestic support and export subsidies; flexibilities for sensitive and special products (number of products and treatment of products); cotton subsidies and food security. Most of the technical work is completed and in the process of cleaning ten decision points.

·         NAMA deals with NTBs as well as industrial tariff reductions; comparing flexibilities between NAMA and agriculture; sectorals (creating duty-free sectors where tariff are cut below what is expected on a voluntary basis; particular focus on certain emerging markets); and case specific flexibilities including for South Africa. Texts have been on the table for two years.

·         Services focus on fastest growing sectors, studies on possible outcomes; market access using a country to country request and offer approach; 71 members have made offers and there is a least developed countries (LDC) waiver; and rule-making based on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) including domestic regulation, emergency safeguard measures, government procurement and subsidies.

·         Development considers promotion of economic development and poverty alleviation; the Marrakesh declaration; recognition of LDCs; incorporation of a development element at all levels; special and differential treatment is currently not legally binding and effective (para 44) and is being reviewed to become more precise, effective and operational. In addition, the provision of duty-free, quota-free access of all LDC products to developing countries; the requirement for technical assistance form developed countries and secure and predictable funding.

·         TRIPS is focused on the legal effects of GIs for wines and spirits where registration in a multilateral system is mandatory and the impact in terms of fees for developing countries; extension of protection for other products linked to GIs; review of article related to plant varieties; benefit sharing and disclosure in biodiversity and traditional knowledge where the origin of any genetic material used in an innovation must be declared.

·         Trade facilitation is a North and South issue. It focuses on technical assistance; the release of goods and capacity to reform custom systems. The group is in the process of reducing disagreements within the draft text and is one of the areas that is advancing well.

·         Environment considers national coordination; a list of specific environmental agreements/requirements that must be adhered to; regular information exchange; granting of observer status; dispute settlement; the reduction or elimination of tariffs and NTBs for environmental goods.

·         Rules related to anti-dumping; subsidies and regional trade agreements (RTAs) are being negotiated. In terms of the RTAs, the transparency of these negotiations; rules governing RTAs are not very clear, namely Article 24 of GATT 1994; Article 5 of GATS and the enabling clause are being considered. There is much political sensitivity in this area.

·         The dispute settlement understanding is not part of the single undertaking.

 

According to the WTO administration, about 80 percent of the technical work is completed but political will is required to conclude the Round. There is uncertainty about when the Round would be concluded given the number of countries involved and the requirement for consensus on a single undertaking. It is expected that the 2010 deadline will probably not be met. The fact that the world has changed since the mandate was determined in 2001 has dampened enthusiasm regarding the developmental agenda of the Round.

 

5.2 Agriculture negotiations

 

The driving force behind the agriculture negotiations is the political imperative to ensure food security within countries. The ability to feed one’s nation and the moral obligation to feed other nations when necessary requires policy choices by each sovereign state. These policy choices range from food self-sufficiency to food security. The difficulty with food self-sufficiency, namely producing all of the basic food needs, is that a country needs to utilise resources that may not exist in the country and could become very expensive. This may result in trade-offs from productive uses to less productive uses, which may lead to lower purchasing power. On the other hand, food security involves trade and the ability to purchase food, which focuses on efficiently allocating resources to maximise food security and purchasing power.

 

Countries that do not have a comparative advantage in agriculture but persist to ensure food security through self-sufficiency inhibit the ability of other countries, usually developing countries, to exercise their comparative advantage in this regard and this is the crux of promoting the DDA. The Uruguay Round began reductions in export subsidies for agriculture, which set the stage for the DDA. However, these reductions may not have led to lower farm support, as developed countries have then shifted support into other structures that are WTO compliant. These subsidies constrain developing countries from entering global markets through tariffs and high domestic support.

 

The new agreement seeks to make the agricultural trading system more level by reducing the impediments. Three essential pillars are necessary to complete modalities, namely:

 

·         Trade distorting domestic support to be reduced. An 80 percent reduction by the European Union and restricting the United States to $14 billion in domestic support is sought.

·         Increasing market access by lowering tariffs by 54 percent in developed countries given certain flexibilities, e.g. dairy and movement of livestock products. This will create greater opportunities; however, the necessary logistics infrastructure for distribution is required to take advantage of these possibilities.

·         Decreasing tariffs.

 

Agriculture is more important for developing countries for social reasons than for developed countries. Political difficulties are a constraint in concluding the text. Trade restrictions are to be introduced to protect developing countries in special cases.

 

Other support for developing countries to enhance development in agriculture could include Aid for Trade where an agreement with a developed country is concluded to share technology and skills and government support for the sector.

 

5.3 Non-Agricultural Market Access

 

The Doha Declaration of 2001 indicated that the NAMA negotiations should focus on products of export interest to developing countries as well as address tariff peaks and escalations and NTBs on such products.

 

The 2004 July framework which the Round from the breakdown in Cancun in 2003 further indicated that there would be formula cuts, differentiated between developed and developing countries who would receive flexibilities, while small vulnerable economies would do even less and least developed countries would be exempted from any cuts at all.

 

At the Hong Kong Ministerial 2003, additional flexibilities for small and vulnerable economies were agreed to, as well as a adoption of the Swiss type formula. Also

In Hong Kong the NAMA11 group of developing countries was formed with South Africa as the co-ordinator. This focussed on proposed a development agenda, delivery on less than reciprocity in NAMA.

 

In 2008, new text was developed which included proposed conditional flexibilities for South Africa and its SACU (Southern African Customs Union) members with a focus on NTBs and a legal approach to this.

 

South Africa has a bound rate for its industrial tariffs of 15.7 percent and an average applied rate of 7.6 percent. Because of its classification as a “developed country” in the Uruguay Round, SA has a bound rate lower than that of comparable countries.

 

The draft NAMA modalities that were Proposed, but not agreed, in 2008 would result in cuts for South Africa in applied industrial tariffs of 30 percent or more and 23 percent pf tariff lines – a level of commitment greater than that required of any other member in any areas of negotiation.

 

Moreover because of SACU these cuts would apply to Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia which has 3 small vulnerable economies and one least developed country would not otherwise have to undergo formula cuts.

 

The outstanding issues are the case specific flexibilities for South Africa, Venezuela and Argentina where these should receive additional flexibilities.

 

5.4 WTO Technical Assistance

 

In terms of WTO technical assistance, developing countries are allowed the following assistance annually, which is demand driven:

 

·         Two training sessions per developing country per annum and three per LDC per year, which is requested through the relevant government department.

·         Assistance to parliamentarians.

 

5.5 Negotiations for Trade in Services

 

Trade in services are estimated to constitute 70 percent of world GDP. Services have evolved from being produced by governments to being commercially produced. This evolution has mainly been because of technological advancement and globalisation. The purpose of GATS is to institutionalise this transformation.

 

Four modes of supply of trade in services are defined, namely cross border through telecommunications, consumption abroad i.e. movement of consumer to the host country, commercial presence i.e. the establishment of a company or legal entity within the export market and the supply of a service through the presence of a natural person that is temporarily residing in the importing country. Commercial presence constitutes 50 to 55 percent of international trade in services.

 

The liberalisation of services under the GATS refers to granting market access and national treatment (treating all countries’ services sectors similarly to the domestic services sector). Therefore, liberalisation cannot be done without regulation.

 

The GATS has a very flexible structure in the sense that liberalisation commitments have been scheduled per member per sector in accordance with its regulatory capacity and does not cover air travel and government services. Liberalisation of trade in services would be progressively done with individual countries determining their progress and the conditions for the liberalisation per sector can be prescribed in their schedules. Countries tend to liberalise out of self-interest beyond their WTO commitments.

 

Competition is a key issue with trade in services, as a sound domestic industry requires access to capital, the latest technology and the knowledge to compete. Furthermore, the quality and cost of the services chain determines an economy’s ability to access global markets and its global competitiveness, as well as impacting on society’s quality of life.

 

The following challenges are faced in the domestic regulation of services:

·         Detailed and specific rules must be devised and defined including licensing, consumer protection, ensuring competition, safety and standards and minimising discretionary decision-making as an invitation for corruption.

·         Dynamic regulatory framework is required.

·         Institutional framework must be appropriately selected, independent and transparent.

 

In the Doha Round, negotiations are conducted through a request-offer process on a bilateral basis. Individual countries would target specific markets where that they have an interest in through a request. The receiving country would then submit an offer based on what it is prepared to allow. A signalling conference was held in 2009 with Ministers indicating what improvements they could make but this cannot proceed until the rest of the negotiations are concluded simultaneously.

 

5.6 Development Issues in the DDA Negotiations

 

Part IV of the GATT (General Agreements of Tariffs and Trade) introduced the principle on non-reciprocity in trade between developed and developing countries, while the enabling clause adopted during the Tokyo Round gives preferences to developing countries and among developing countries.

 

This has led to the special and differential treatment (SDT) of developing countries, acknowledging the differing abilities of countries to meet WTO obligations. SDT uses five measures, namely measures to enhance market access; measures to safeguard; allowing countries to use their policy space; allowing for extra time to implement obligations and seeking to provide trade related assistance and capacity building. In addition, LDCs receive further specific measures.

 

One of the key development issues is access to markets. However, granting only market access without building capacity will not increase trade flows for developing countries. Aid for Trade financing was launched to address this, where the WTO facilitates the partnering of donors and developing countries to promote assistance. Many of the developed and now developing countries are aware of the importance of assisting with the development of developing countries.  New dynamic in terms of SDT including insisting on financial assistance from developed countries before the developing countries are willing to make certain sacrifices in the negotiations.

 

The Africa Group dominated the 88 proposals to reform SDT. Proposals were categorised according to the most appropriate committee that dealt with it or as being too divergent, which should be dealt with elsewhere. Some of the proposals were that all developed and developing countries are to give 90 percent of LDC products quota-free, duty-free access; providing more information on SPS (sanitary and phyto-sanitary) measures and import licensing; and the introduction of a monitoring mechanism for the effectiveness of SDT as proposed by developing countries or a platform to share experiences as proposed by developed countries. There was also a proposal that SDT be integrated into other negotiating areas. Many countries are already giving LDCs de facto access.

 

LDCs have called for an early harvest, as they are most affected by the delays in the negotiating process. However, the other members do not want to have an early harvest to ensure the maximum political and moral support and momentum from all the developing countries.

 

The work in this negotiating area has been progressing slowly; however, there has been movement involving the development agenda in other negotiating areas.

 

5.7 Overview of TRIPs Negotiations and the TRIPs and Public Health Agreement

 

TRIPs is a vehicle to encourage developing countries to raise their intellectual property standards. There is a debate regarding the differences between types of innovations being created by developed and developing countries and the way to protect these. One of the key issues, namely the protection of traditional knowledge and genetic resources, has mainly been protected at a national level as no international instrument exists.

 

TRIPs does not refer to traditional knowledge and was not meant to but it acknowledges the parallel development of a broad approach to traditional knowledge and genetic resources because of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

 

There is no international legal definition of an innovation in patent law and this is open for individual countries to define. There are working definitions for traditional knowledge at the WIPO but this would need to be tailor-made forSouth Africa based on the core characteristics of this type of innovation. South Africa’s process could also feed back into the international arena. When there is an international dispute, definitions are critical and legislation must be robust. The definitions must work in South Africa firstly and in turn will be the strongest base to argue internationally. Only trying to solve things on the international plane and assuming that it will work out domestically is insufficient. As domestic experience and work is essential to legitimise traditional knowledge regionally and internationally.

 

Countries that have created traditional knowledge protection legislation have also undergone a review to determine the effectiveness of this. This process has to be iterative, as it is a new area. The international arena can provide guidance but will not be definitive.

 

There is a challenge with access and benefit sharing for Convention on Biological Diversity. Negotiations are underway regarding a new international regime to make this more enforceable and an outcome is expected in October 2010. ‘Smuggling’ genetic resources and commercialising this outside of a country may not necessarily be wrong unless one is breaking the national law or breaching a contract. Thus, it cannot necessarily be made a legal issue, but remains a moral or ethical issue. It was proposed by developing countries that the rules regarding genetic resources should be rewritten to compel the disclosure of the origin of any genetic resources used in an innovation.

 

The proposed amendment to TRIPS where one cannot get an enforceable patent without disclosing the origins of the genetic material (patent system to monitor use of genetic resources) could assist in enforcing national legislation beyond a country’s shores. Other possible enforcement mechanisms are the international instrument(s) WIPO is developing to define this activity as an act of misappropriation and making this an issue of contract law, where a community allows use for personal use only and commercialisation would constitute a breach of contract (mutual understanding/contract that must be made enforceable internationally).

 

5.8 Negotiations relating to Rules, including Regional Trade Agreements

 

The negotiations on WTO rules cover anti-dumping, subsidies (including fishery subsidies) and countervailing duties, safeguards, Trade-related Investment Measures (TRIMS) and civil aviation agreements, as well as rules for negotiations. WTO’s administration deals with dispute settlements and provides a secretary and legal officer for the negotiations.

 

In terms of anti-dumping measures, 3 700 actions were launched by members since 2008. India has initiated 600 investigations; the US initiated 440 investigations; South Africa has initiated the fifth highest number of initiations with 212 investigations mainly in metal and glass fibre products. About 100 countries have the legal instruments in place to initiate anti-dumping investigations. A third of the members use anti-dumping investigations. In Africa, onlySouth Africa and Egypt have anti-dumping legislation and Mauritius is launching its legislation.

 

China, South Korea and the US have had the most investigations initiated against them, while South Africa has had close to 60 investigations initiated against them in the last 15 years. These were mainly from the US (16 investigations); Argentina (10 investigations) and India (9 investigations). Most initiations by developing countries are against other developing countries. South Africa has followed a very transparent approach and has had no disputes against it so far due to dumping. However, a recent constitutional court case against ITAC has highlighted the need for it to tighten its methodology/mechanism. ITAC does an excellent job of investigations but does not have the expertise for legal interpretation of the WTO agreements leading to frequent court cases.

 

South Africa’s use of countervailing duties has usually been concurrent with anti-dumping investigations. Six measures have been instigated against South Africa in steel products and canned peaches. There have been 245 initiations among WTO members since 1995 with almost 50 percent of these being from the US.

 

The Rules negotiating group has included subsidy disciplines (horizontal) and subsidies for fisheries in its mandate. The “Friends of Anti-Dumping Negotiations” (FANS), which is led by Japan, are in favour of strengthening the rules so that it makes it more difficult to implement a measure. On the other hand, developing countries are calling for the strengthening of the spans of prohibited subsidies.

 

A subsidy is not necessarily condemned by the WTO especially if it is for development purposes. Specific subsidies aimed at an industry or group of companies may be prohibited especially if it focuses or is issued based on exports. Subsidy programmes should be within the WTO rules and should not be focused on export incentives and determined by local content. It should also not have distorting effects. There are also actionable subsidies, such as production subsidies, that may be challenged by other members.

 

Fisheries subsidies are very sensitive, as only 20% of world fish stocks are still healthy and their implementation promotes overfishing. Challenges exist in developing disciplines to limit overfishing, as fish do not honour national borders and it is difficult to regulate these subsidies. Furthermore, not all catches are declared and one has to consider the impact on subsistence fishers. In terms of catches, 71 percent of developing countries responsible for wild catch and only 15 percent of catch are within high seas and 85 percent within the exclusive economic zone. There is a need to find appropriate SDT for developing countries and to develop Regional Fisheries Management Organizations on high seas. In addition, political decisions should consider the scientific data to ensure sustainability of the world’s fishing stock while promoting development. The aim of addressing fishery subsidies is to deal with large fisheries and overfishing as one of the causes of stock depletion.

 

The draft text that was developed towards the end of December 2007 was used as a starting point of negotiations but there is much dissatisfaction with it. The second draft text was drawn at the end of 2008. A roadmap for fisheries subsidies was developed and some technical work to clarify anti-dumping measures for fisheries has been conducted but is waiting for signals from the Agricultural Group and other groups.

 

South Africa has been quite active on fisheries subsidies and anti-dumping measures. It can play a role as a bridge builder in these negotiations. Negotiators must have strong technical skills and sufficient resources in order to be effective and influential in the Round and should preferably be based in Geneva.

 

5.9 Roundtable Discussion on the DDA

 

Mr Chiedu Osakwe, the WTO Director of Accessions Division, moderated a session with the ambassadors of India, H.E. Mr Ujal Bhatia; EU, H.E. Mr John Clarke; China, H.E. Mr Zhenyu Sun; and Zambia, H.E. Mr Darlington Mwape; as well as the deputy ambassador of Brazil, H.E. Mr Paolo Mesquita. Each ambassador was asked to express their views on their countries’ perspective of what is on the table, their countries’ priorities in the Doha Round and how to move beyond the impasse on the Doha Round, as well as the role of emerging markets.

 

There was general consensus amongst the ambassadors that most countries were in favour of the conclusion of the Doha Round given a few changes with the exception of the US. The US was still seeking additional benefits from the Round in areas such as agriculture, NAMA and services and would require a strong political will to concede to the agreements on the table. 

 

H.E. Mr Bhatia referred to the dichotomy that existed between the WTO and the Doha Round of negotiations, where the WTO was equated to the Doha Round but should be viewed separately. The global economic crisis has highlighted the need for global regulation. He noted that global trade has continued mainly uninterrupted despite threats of protectionism. H.E. Mr Clarke attributed this to the fact that the WTO rules did not allow member countries to reverse their liberalisation without repercussion.

 

H.E. Mr Bhatia commented that international rules and regulations are only relevant as far as they adapt to changes. However, the WTO is unable to provide a platform for change because it is being paralysed through regional trade agreements that are bypassing the multilateral system. As WTO is limited by the Doha Round and is therefore not in the position to respond to new issues such as climate change until the Round is concluded. H.E. Mr Clarke was of the view that the Doha Round would be the answer to the last ten years of economic changes.

 

He outlined that there had been progress made in agriculture in terms of market access barriers. In NAMA, progress had been made in terms of tariff barriers despite the need for concessions for South Africa, Argentina and a few other developing countries and non-tariff barriers.

 

H.E. Mr John Clarke alluded to the fact that elected parliamentarians have direct impact on determining international agreements as recognised through the Lisbon Treaty. The WTO implemented international rules of trade, was a unique binding dispute settlement and negotiation forum for the progressive opening of markets and for determining strong international rules. He expressed that agreements particularly in agriculture and services allowed countries to exploit their natural competitive advantage and that the agreements offered a fairly significant economic stimulus package. The Round could provide economic growth and poverty alleviation given an equitable distribution of income. He emphasised that there is a need for an element of give and take in the last stretch to ensure the Round’s conclusion.

 

H.E. Mr Zhenyu Sun commented that there has been great efforts and participation from all members in the Round. However, many members may still be dissatisfied with what is on the table but in spite of this there is a willingness to accept the package if others would too rather than wait another three to five years for further benefits. He expressed some dissatisfaction that the US despite its statement to lower their subsidies by 70 percent would probably not even lose $1 per subsidy. He was the opinion that though the Swiss formula would mainly reduce the ‘water’ for developing countries, the cuts in developing countries’ tariffs would be much deeper than for developed countries and will reduce members’ policy space, especially given crises such as the global economic crisis. There was an opinion that half of the Doha Round’s value is derived from the trade facilitation negotiations.

 

H.E. Mr Darlington Mwape focused on the impact of the Round on LDCs. He indicated that LDCs contributed 1 percent to world trade but constituted 12 percent of the global population. This reflected the existing economic imbalance. He stressed that a delay in the implementation of the Doha Round would affect LDCs negatively. Therefore, he advocated for a proposition to invoke the ‘early harvest’ principle to conclude the Round for the poorer countries while these other important issues are being resolved. He suggested that members should rethink whether the outstanding 20 percent of the mandate should be completed or to design another Round for these outstanding issues. Otherwise benefits for the LDCs would be delayed until the Round is completed. He also noted that the Aid for Trade and the Enhanced Integrated Framework programmes must continue effectively so that the productive sectors of LDCs’ economies can be continually dealt with.

 

H.E. Mr Paolo Mesquita noted that Brazil had been one of the founding members of the GATT despite disparity with its economic policies. It had been a proponent of special and differential treatment; however, most things of interest to it had been removed from the system. Brazil was forced to liberalise following its policy on import substitution. Brazil recognises the value in the WTO system, especially in terms of the dispute settlement mechanism, despite imbalanced rules that favour developed countries. The deputy ambassador welcomed the additional discipline this Round would bring in agriculture and Brazil was pushing for even more liberalisation in certain cases. Their main target was disciplines in subsidies and more market access in certain agricultural markets.

 

 

6. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)

 

The ICTSD is an independent organisation established by civil society, governed by a board of trustees. It focuses on sustainable development angel on trade with an emphasis on developing countries. The ICTSD is of the view that Trade policy and the multilateral trade system should support a country’s economic and social aspirations in order to achieve its economic and social goals. It further aims to influence trade bodies through dialogue and working with parts of the system.

 

6.1 Multilateral trade system

 

Mr Sergio Marchi briefed the Committee on the Multilateral Trade System. He focused on the need for developed countries to move on agricultural negotiations by dismantling the substantial agricultural subsidies for their farmers as it distorts the market place and disadvantages developing countries. Currently, the USA is in a weak position therefore we may not see any progress on subsidies. Conclusion of the Doha round of negotiations is essential to ensure the future and integrity of the WTO.

 

The Committee expressed a view of engaging their US counterparts in direct dialogue to discuss the delay in the Doha Development Agenda. Eighty percent of the Doha Round is completed but the failure to conclude has a negative impact on the LDC.

 

6.2 Trade and Climate change

 

Ms Ingrid Jegou briefed the Committee on trade and climate change issues. The presentation focuses on the internalisation of carbon cost and the support of low carbon economies. The identification and classification of climate friendly goods within the WTO and the agricultural link to climate change are issues that have an impact on trade. The rising cost of international transport due to climate change has a negative impact on LDCs and small island states.

 

 

7.      Concluding Comments

 

The Committee, after its deliberations on the “South African Trade Policy and Strategy Framework: Discussion Document”, concluded that an extensive study tour to broaden its understanding of key issues faced by developing countries in the Doha Round of negotiations at the WTO should be undertaken. Currently before the Committee is the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill, which is highly complex and required extensive interaction with key role-players, both nationally and internationally. The Committee therefore embarked on a study visit to the South African Trade Mission at the WTO, as well as key organisations such as WIPO, the South Centre, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).

 

Currently, WTO agreements exhibit a range of imbalances and deficiencies that are prejudicial to their trade and development interests. Further, the agreements, designed in the main by industrialised countries, reflect the concerns of sophisticated economies and presuppose an institutional, human and financial base that is often lacking in developing countries. Evident in our discussions with various organisations, which included NGOs, is that a consensus exists around key issues pertaining to the “Developmental Round” and that the delay to the conclusion of the Round could be attributed to the developed countries.

 

In our discussions with specifically WIPO and other organisations – the Committee became aware that a global discussion on Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property - as a policy issue - are underway. Furthermore, our engagement with these organisations highlighted the complexities around intellectual property and that no common framework exists on how to approach the debate currently happening on the incorporation of Traditional Knowledge into Intellectual Property Laws worldwide and specifically in South Africa.

 

Other conclusions:

 

7.1 The Director-General of the WTO, as well as his Deputy, welcomed the interaction with parliamentarians and acknowledged the value of engagements with lawmakers. Specifically both applauded the Portfolio Committee for initiating the programmatic requirements of the Study Visit which would in future be used as a format by the WTO to expand the outreach programme with legislators and other institutions. Views were expressed that such engagements with lawmakers of WTO countries could enhance the workings of the WTO and that such engagements could contribute to the completion of the Doha Round of negotiations. The views of legislators and resolutions adopted by respective parliaments were essential in supporting a country’s position.

 

7.2 WIPO welcomed the engagement with the Committee and indicated that they are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the current debate in South Africa on Intellectual Property. WIPO would welcome the conclusion of our deliberations on Intellectual Property Laws as our legislation could be used as a benchmark for other countries considering amending their Intellectual Property laws.

 

7.3 In the Committee’s discussion with UNCTAD, UNCTAD was of the view that the Millennium Development Goals do not focus on the real development issues and that an alternative growth path should be pursued. To achieve this, policies developed in this regard should be supportive of the international architecture. This view was not prevailing in the Committee in our deliberations on Trade Policy and IPAP2. The Committee noted the contribution that UNCTAD could make if developing countries utilise the research capacity of the institution.

 

7.4 The Committee’s engagement with the South Centre highlighted key challenges faced by developing countries in the Doha Round negotiations. Developing countries’ cooperation at key international fora would enhance the possibility of ensuring a developmental outcome at the Doha Round negotiations. This could only be achieved through the promotion of South-South cooperation that would enhance their bargaining power. 

 

7.5 During the Committee’s engagement with the ICTSD, it became apparent that key experts in the field of Intellectual Property were at the disposal of the Committee. The Committee’s visit to WIPO did not provide sufficient information on Intellectual Property and after a strategic engagement with the Chairperson of  the ICTSD it was agreed that a workshop would be arrange at minimum cost to Parliament. The workshop proved to further enhance the understanding on Intellectual Property Laws, but highlighted key challenges faced by the Committee with respect to key principles.

 

7.6 The Committee noted the extensive focus on the WTO processes which has broadened its understanding of the current debate in the Doha Round as well as the engagements with key stakeholders in the field of Intellectual Property Laws that would only contribute to the development of legislation.

 

7.7 The Committee noted the presence/dominance of officials from various countries of the South at the multilateral organisations and the influence it has on determining the trade agenda. The Committee is of the view that recruitment of South African officials to these multilateral institutions should be promoted and encouraged.

 

7.8 Arising out of the experience of the Committee during the intensive study visit and the inclusion of the committee secretary, content specialist and researcher, the Committee is of the view that there is a need for such study visits in the beginning of every fresh term with the inclusion of key support staff. Secondly, the study visit could be expanded to include a focused cross cluster of committees such as Economic Development, International Relations and Co-operation, and the related select committees.

 

7.9 A recognition that greater synergy should be developed between Inter-Parliamentary groupings and the Portfolio Committee of Trade and Industry where appropriate.

 

 

8.      Acknowledgements

 

The Committee wishes to thank Ambassador Faizel Ismail and his staff for being instrumental in ensuring that the Committee engage with important key stakeholders during this visit. Furthermore, the Committee wants to express its deep appreciation to the Director-General of the WTO, Mr Pascal Lamy, and his deputy, Ms Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza, for hosting the Committee as well as their contribution in developing a successful programme.

 

Visits to the WTO, WIPO, UNCTAD and the ICTSD contributed in broadening the understanding of Members with respect to the issues at the WTO and on IP. The Committee also wishes to thank its Committee support staff, in particular the Committee Secretary, Mr A Hermans, the Content Advisor, Ms M Herling, and the Researcher, Mr L Mahlangu, for their professional support and conscientious commitment to their work.  The Chairperson thanks all Members of the Committee for their active participation during the process of engagement and deliberations and their constructive recommendations made in this report. The strong cohesion within the delegation and their willingness to put South Africa’s interests first distinguished the delegation and sets a precedent for future study tours.

 

 

9.       Recommendations

 

Informed by its engagement with various organisations, the Committee recommends that the House request that:

 

1. The Minister of Trade and Industry submits a quarterly report to the Committee on the programmes and undertakings by the South African Mission to the WTO.

2. The Department of Trade and Industry considers the allocation of additional staff to support the South African Ambassador to the WTO.

3. Closer engagement through the various economic fora and regional structure, especially in Africa, should be explored through the WTO to ensure a developmental outcome on trade negotiations.

 

Report to be considered.

 


[1] Tralac (Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa) (2010)

[2] For additional information please visit WIPO at www.wipo.int

[3] For additional information please visit UNCTAD at www.unctad.org

[4] For additional information please visit WTO at www.wto.org

[5] For additional information please visit the Centre at www.southcentre.org

[6] For additional information please visit UNCTAD at www.unctad.org

[7] ICTSD, Policy Brief Number 7, March 2010

[8] Frederick M Abbott; The Political Economy of the WIPO Developmental Agenda

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