Compromise on intellectual property issues remained elusive at last week’s World Trade Organization ministerial meeting. An initial statement by the European Union initially identified GIs as a "poltical must have," along with agriculture, non-agricultural market access, and services. However, the US later announced that it does not intend to engage in negotiations on GI extension. "These TRIPS issues are important to many members, but we think it's vital to keep the focus of this meeting on agriculture, (manufactured goods), services. This meeting is not the time to create new mandates on the TRIPS issues," a spokesperson for US Trade Representative Susan Schwab reportedly said at a press briefing on 22 July.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Støre is continuing informal consultations on three intellectual property issues: 1) the multilateral register for wines’ and spirits’ geographical indications (GIs), 2) extending geographical indications protection beyond wines and spirits (“GI extension”), and 3) proposals to require patent applicants to disclose the origin of genetic material and traditional knowledge. Støre told Intellectual Property Watch late Thursday that movement on these issues would depend on progress on agriculture and non-agricultural market access.
The WTO's goal for this so-called "July 2008 package" was to agree on “modalities” in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) — ie, the formulas and other methods to be used to cut tariffs and agricultural subsidies, and a range of related provisions — and to look at the next steps in concluding the Doha round of negotiations.