TWN Briefings for WSSD No.9

Comments on the Trade Aspects in the WSSD Draft Plan

By Martin Khor


There are several paragraphs in the draft WSSD Implementation Plan that deals with trade issues.  The following are some comments, from a development perspective.


1.       PARA 88 (IPRs):

The Developing countries in WTO fought hard to gain recognition of flexibility in TRIPS to enable countries to have compulsory license measures. This should not be watered down in WSSD. Thus the first 2 bracketed texts in para 88 should be removed: [ while reiterating our commitment to TRIPS] {Implement the TRIPS agreement as part of the wider actors to address health problems]

The 3rd option (put in by G77 is the best): ‘Address public health problems... through reaffirming the rights of WTO members to use to the full the provisions of TRIPS that promote flexibility for this purpose ...adopted in Doha.’ There is good value added to this option.

Option 2 [Implement TRIPS as part of the actions...] would be a grave setback as it would give a lever to developed countries to act against developing countries for not implementing TRIPS in the manner desired by the former

2.       PARA 51 (IPRs):

This para repeats the bad Option 2 [Implement TRIPS as part..]. The para should be removed or else the Option 3 of para 88 be placed here.

3.       PARA 42 ®: CBD/WTO RELATION:

This agreed para advocates: ‘promote discussions with regard to relationships between the obligations of the CBD and of the agreements on trade and IPRs as outlined in Doha...’. This could be against developing countries’ interests as one of the CBD’s provisions advocates adherence to other international laws on IPRs (which now includes TRIPS). The strength of CBD in its relation with TRIPS is the CBD’s objectives rather than obligations. Also, the reference to ‘as outlined in Doha Declaration’ gives too much preference to Doha at the expense of resolutions in CBD.

Suggestion: Remove the words ‘the obligations of’ and ‘as outlined in Doha Declaration’; otherwise include at end ‘as outlined in Doha and in relevant decisions of the CBD.’ In any case ‘obligations of’ should be removed.


·        Suggestion: Promote better relationship between the rules of the trade system and MEAs, [thus avoiding to choose between coherence, coordination, hierarchy].

·        Suggestion: Remove last line on ‘further collaboration between WTO and ILO, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, other agencies.’ Reason: it is ambiguous what this collaboration means. Is it through the secretariats or membership? Will it lead to new standards in the WTO rules (e.g.. Environment and labour standards) that developing countries have fought to avoid? Which other agencies?


References to pursue, advance Doha agenda and to meet important deadlines to conclude negotiations by Jan 2005 are adverse as they can be used in WTO to add pressures on developing countries to speed up the pace of negotiations which are already at intolerable levels due to inadequate personnel and resources of developing countries. The developing countries in WTO are demanding that the number of meetings be limited and the deadlines (e.g., in market access for non-agricultural products) be relaxed to suit the needs and resources of developing countries.

Thus remove or revise references in:

·        Para 81 (alt.2): pursue the agenda and program of Doha

·        Para 81 (alt.2)(b)(ii), advancing the Doha agenda

·        Para 83: mindful of the important deadlines to ensure progress by 5th Ministerial and... Jan 2005.

·        Para 83 (alt): Call on WTO members to be mindful of important deadlines...5th Ministerial...Jan 2005


1.       PARA 82 (COMMODITIES):

The bracketed phrase ‘and through the establishment of an international mechanism to stabalise commodity prices to cope with price instability and declining terms of trade’ is a definite plus point for WSSD. This should be defended, it will boost some current efforts being undertaken by developing countries (e.g. in Geneva or in OAU) to improve the present disastrous situation on price collapse.

2.       PARA 87:

Para 87 on implementation problems at WTO is weak and adds no value

Para 87(alt) is good as it calls for comprehensively addressing developing countries problems and mentions imbalances and asymmetries in WTO agreements [which up to now the developed countries have refused to recognize exists].