WTO discusses proposals to reinvigorate tech transfer

Published : 17 May 2024 08:51 PM

The Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology discussed on 15 May members’ proposals on future topics for discussion and brainstormed on how to inject new energy into finding ways to increase flows of technology to developing economies.  Members elected Ambassador Raimondas Alisauskas of Lithuania as Chair for 2024 and granted the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) observer status in the Working Group. Alejandro Roca Campaña from WIPO reiterated his organization's readiness to deepen its partnership with the WTO and leverage its expertise in IP innovation to contribute to the discussions on technology transfer. 

Members supported WIPO's request for observer status given the mandate in the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration for the Working Group to continue working with other relevant international organizations and in view of the areas of common interest between WIPO and the Working Group.

Members discussed two proposals, by India and the African Group, on themes the Working Group could prioritize for discussion, with a view to increasing flows of technology to developing economies.  The themes include leveraging technologies for facilitating trade, enhancing agricultural productivity and resilience, and promoting environmentally sound technologies to address climate change. Members welcomed the proposals and reflected on possible ways forward.

Ambassador Ališauskas said he will begin consultations with members to gather their views on the next steps, including on how to structure work.  “Ministers have recognized in the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration the role of this working group and encouraged the continuation of our work. There is a need for us to reassess the current status of our work and to structure it going forward to deliver substantively,” he added.

The next Working Group meeting is scheduled for 11 July 2024.

A number of provisions in the WTO agreements underline the need for transfer of technology to take place between developed and developing economies. However, it is not clear how such a transfer takes place in practice and if specific measures might be taken within the WTO to encourage such flows of technology.

The Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology was established at the Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001. It aims to examine the relationship between trade and transfer of technology from developed to developing economies and ways to increase the flow of technology to these economies.