south asia watch on trade, economics and environment

In Focus

Nepal Civil Society Organizations’ Call to Support LDCs’ Request on Extension of Transition Period

SAWTEE, together with a number of Nepali Civil Society Organizations, has called on the Chair of the TRIPS Council, United States Trade Representative and the Commissioner of the European Commission in Geneva to urgently and unequivocally support the LDCs’ request to extend the transition period for the implementation of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the WTO. The current transition period provided to LDCs to implement the TRIPS Agreement, other than for pharmaceuticals, is expiring next month (1 July 2021). LDCs’ request is in accordance with Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement, which states, “Council for TRIPS shall, upon duly motivated request by a least-developed country Member, accord extensions of this period.”

 

Currently, LDCs’ situation is extremely alarming due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this moment LDCs need maximum policy flexibility. Even before the COVID crisis, LDCs faced severe constraints, such as limited availability of skilled labour, productive capacities, access to secondary education, electricity, and internet access. The basic conditions to benefit from full TRIPS implementation are mostly absent in LDCs. They also lack affordable access to knowledge-based goods crucial for sustainable development such as access to health products including for COVID-19 such as ventilators, educational materials, green technologies, etc.

 

Short transition periods granted in the past have proven to be inadequate. And it is clear, now more than ever, LDCs will require the transition period to continue post-graduation as the exceptional developmental challenges LDCs are facing will continue even after graduation.

 

Chad, on behalf of the LDC members of the WTO, had proposed for the extension of the transition period in October last year. However, even after eight months since the request was made, the WTO TRIPS Council has not yet agreed to the LDCs’ request, more so at a time of unprecedented global crisis, with the most vulnerable bearing the worst impact. The US and the EU are yet to agree to the request. Hence, the open letter sent by the civil society organizations based in Nepal to the Chair of the TRIPS Council, United States Trade Representative and the Commissioner of the European Commission calls for heeding to the LDCs’ request immediately.

The organizations making the call:

  1. Centre for South Asian Studies
  2. Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC)
  3. Environment, Culture, Agriculture Research and Development Society- Nepal (ECARDS – Nepal)
  4. Forum for Protection of Public Interest (Pro Public)
  5. Forward Nepal
  6. LDC Watch
  7. Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD)
  8. Niti Foundation
  9. Society for Legal & Environmental Analysis & Development Research (LEADERS)
  10. South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE)
  11. Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC)

Please find the open letter here.