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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New WTO intellectual property treaty takes off, gets Canadian applause

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has concluded the first amendment of its Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), just as the Canadian government has applauded the effort, saying it would provide access to affordable medicines for developing countries, reports ITRealms.

The amendment to the agreement on intellectual property entered into force on January 23, 2017; securing for developing countries a legal pathway to access affordable medicines under WTO rules.

The WTO’s agreements currently are the result of negotiations between the members, known as the 1986–94 Uruguay Round negotiations, which included a major revision of the original General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

ITRealms reports that through these agreements, WTO members operate what experts tagged “a non-discriminatory trading system” that spells out their rights and their obligations with each country receiving guarantees that its exports will be treated fairly and consistently in other countries’ markets, whereas promising to do same for imports into its own market. 

The system also gives developing countries some flexibility in implementing their commitments.

Also, ITRealms gathered that the Intellectual property agreement is the rules for trade in creativity industry, which amounts to rule for trade and investment in ideas and creativity. 

The rules state how copyrights, patents, trademarks, geographical names used to identify products, industrial designs, integrated circuit layout-designs and undisclosed information such as trade secrets, otherwise known as “intellectual property” should be protected when trade is involved.

Reacting to the latest and first amendment of TRIPS, the Honourable Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, in a joint statement on behalf of the Canadian government, noted that the entry into force of the World Trade Organization’s amendment to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property is a welcome development.

The agreement, Canada said, will provide a framework for access to affordable medicines for developing countries, stressing that the country would continue to promote a world where people care for one another and to prioritize the health and wellness of the global community.

“Canada is pleased that this WTO amendment is now in force,” they said, explaining that it supports the export of generic versions of patented drugs to developing countries that lack the capacity to manufacture needed medicines themselves.

Millions of people, Canada pointed out, have continued to suffer from treatable conditions such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, as well as other epidemics, because they cannot access life-saving drugs.

With this WTO amendment, Canada said provides countries with another tool to improve access to affordable medicines for those who need it most.

“Canada welcomes this decision and hopes for a swift implementation. This is also significant as it is the first time that a WTO agreement has been amended,” part of the joint statement made available to ITRealms read.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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