13th WTO Ministerial (Abu Dhabi): WTO adopts decision to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints

At the closing to the 13th WTO Ministerial in Abu Dhabi, the World Trade Organization adopted a decision to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints.

The text of the decision (WT/MIN(24)/39) is reproduced here:

The Ministerial Conference decides as follows:

    We take note of the work done by the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights pursuant to our Decision of 17 June 2022 on “TRIPS Non-Violation and Situation Complaints” (document WT/L/1137), and direct it to continue its examination of the scope and modalities for complaints of the types provided for under subparagraphs 1(b) and 1(c) of Article XXIII of GATT 1994 and make recommendations to the 14th Ministerial Conference. It is agreed that, in the meantime, Members will not initiate such complaints under the TRIPS Agreement.

Earlier in January 2024, in a communication from the Chair of the TRIPS Council (ICN/IP/11, 26 January 2024), Ambassador Pimchanok Pitfield (Thailand) signaled that there was no consensus on this issue.

The communication stated:

TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints

    With respect to TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints (NVSCs), delegations indicated no movement in positions since the last informal Council meeting on 29 November 2023. A draft decision on TRIPS NVSCs (JOB/IP/72) had been circulated for Members’ consideration after that meeting. However, during my consultations, Members were no closer to taking a decision on this matter.

    In light of these consultations, and in order to make all efforts to complete work here in Geneva as much as possible before we go to Abu Dhabi next month, I have prepared the following draft reports for Members’ consideration:

    1. A draft report on Paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement (JOB/IP/73)

    2. A draft report under Paragraphs 23-24 of the Ministerial Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics (JOB/IP/74)

    It would be my suggestion that Members agree on these reports still before the General Council meeting scheduled for 14 February 2024, with a view to concluding these matters before the Ministerial Conference.

    As regards TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints, I also remain hopeful that Members can agree on a recommendation still here in Geneva.

In Abu Dhabi, at the 11th hour, the delegation of Colombia intervened. On Friday, 1 March 2024 at 23:11 Gulf Standard Time, Dr. Germán Umaña Mendoza – Ministro de Comercio, Industria y Turismo (Colombia) delivered an intervention on non-violation complaints. Here below is the unofficial English translation of his intervention:

    Thank you President, Minister Al Thani,

    Before we start, we want to table an agenda item in the negotiations for which we all came prepared since the first versions of the agenda, I refer to non violation complaints under the TRIPS Agreement. The practice suggested by the president of the council, Ambassador Pimchanok, must be maintained. This point should be part of the “Ministers’ Actions” at this meeting. So unless someone objects, we understand that the intellectual property moratorium is extended.

A video of Colombia’s intervention can be found here: https://twitter.com/ThiruGeneva/status/1765403690100273216

After Colombia’s intervention, the WTO Ministerial adopted the decision to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints.