On 5 March 2013, the Government of India made the following intervention at the TRIPS Council under agenda item 11, request for an extension of the transitional period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement. In their intervention, India unequivocally supported the duly motivated requested submitted by Haiti on behalf of the LDC Group on 5 November 2012 (IP/C/W/583).
India asserted that the “no roll back provision” of the 2005 extension had no place in the TRIPS Agreement and noted that
the framers of the TRIPS Agreement rightly understood the special needs of the LDC Members and in the Preamble to the Agreement they recognised their need for maximum flexibility in the domestic implementation of laws and regulations in order to enable them to create a sound and viable technological base.
Here is the statement in full.
At the outset, let me thank the LDC Group for submitting a joint motivated request in the last TRIPS Council meeting for an extension of their transition period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement. We feel that the request is a comprehensive one, highlighting the vulnerability of their poor population, marginal role their economies still play in the world trade and very limited productive capacity and technological infrastructure that can transform these economies.
In fact, the framers of the TRIPS Agreement rightly understood the special needs of the LDC Members and in the Preamble to the Agreement they recognised their need for maximum flexibility in the domestic implementation of laws and regulations in order to enable them to create a sound and viable technological base. Article 66.1 of the Agreement further reiterates the special needs of the LDCs along with their economic, financial and administrative constraints to develop a viable technological base and therefore mandates the TRIPS Council to grant them an extension from the obligations of the Agreement on the basis of a motivated request. The provisions of Article 66.1 are precise and provide no discretion to the TRIPS Council to either deny the request or impose any further conditions on the LDCs.
The last extension that was given to the LDCs in 2005 is expiring on July 1, 2013. It was an extension for a limited period of 71/2 years with an obligation on the LDCs to submit Priority needs to meet the objectives of Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement. We realise that this linkage with Article 67 was unnecessary and had created confusion. In fact , there is absolutely no relation between the transition period which is meant to assist the LDCs in developing a viable technological base and Art 67 which is an obligation on the developed countries to provide technical assistance to the LDCs to help them implement the TRIPS Agreement. Further the no roll back provision in the 2005 decision has no place in the TRIPS Agreement and had in fact reduced the policy space for the LDCs in utilising the TRIPS flexibilities during the transition period to engage in technological development and ensuring access to affordable goods to its citizens. Realising the lacunae in the earlier decision and with the mandatory and independent nature of Article 66.1, India supports the extension under TRIPS Art 66.1 that reflects the motivated request made by the LDCs during the last meeting of TRIPS Council. We feel that this issue is of utmost importance to the LDCs and we would like to assure our full co-operation and active engagement in future discussions on this issue.