Wednesday, September 26, 2007

South Centre participates in OECD Forum on Ownership in Practice

Yash Tandon, the Executive Director of South Centre will be speaking at the OECD Forum on Ownership in Practice in Paris on September 27, 2007. He will be making a presentation at the opening session of the forum on "The two dimensions of ownership" on behalf of Dr. Norman Girvan, Board Member of the South Centre.

The OECD Global Forum on Development, of which this Workshop is a part, is an informal dialogue space for complex issues. Akey objective of the workshop is to discuss what ownership means in practice, ocusing on concrete examples from developing countries.

More information at:,3343,en_21571361_37824719_38977173_1_1_1_1,00.html

Monday, September 24, 2007

Priorities for the WIPO Assemblies 2007

The WIPO General Assembly : Thirty-Fourth (18th Ordinary) Session runs from September 25 to October 3, 2007. Ms. Viviana Munoz Tellez, Programme Officer, Innovations and Access to Knowledge Programme (IAKP), South Centre provides an insight to the "Priorities for the WIPO Assemblies 2007" in her commentary recorded on the South Centre Digital TV.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Working lunch meeting for WTO TRIPS Council on disclosure requirement

The South Centre organized a working lunch on TRIPS-related issues on 19 September for over forty WTO developing country members who are co-sponsors of the proposal to amend Article 29 of the TRIPS Agreement to include a mandatory disclosure requirement of the origin of biological resources and associated traditional knowledge claimed in patent applications.This working lunch is a follow up to a series of working lunches organised by the South Centre in 2006 and April 2007 to advance the proposal that was formally submitted to the WTO by a group of developing countries in May 2006.

During the working lunch co-sponsors of the amendment proposal shared information and discussed future scenarios and strategy. The next meeting of the TRIPS Council will be on 23-24 October.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

South Centre participates in Roundtable on "Technical Analysis of Development Implications of Draft EPA Provisions"

Luisa Rodriguez, Trade for Development Programme, made a presentation at the Roundtable entitled “What’s on the table for development? A Technical analysis of development implications of draft EPA provisions”, held in Brussels on 13 September 2007.

The presentation made by Luisa Rodriguez assessed the content of the EPA texts on the basis of existing vulnerabilities of the agriculture sector in ACP countries. These vulnerabilities include: supply side constraints; dependency on a limited number of commodities, markets and preferential market access; increased frequency and extent of import surges. She made specific recommendations concerning: the process leading to regional selection of Sensitive Products, technical and financial needs to reinforce and develop ACP countries’ capacities with regards to health and sanitary standards and an agricultural safeguard mechanism.

This event was jointly organized by APRODEV and Christian Aid to help ACP and EU officials to better understand the development implications of EPA texts, in order to enable them to make a knowledgeable assessment of whether these texts will deliver the development ambitions of Cotonou or what needs to change before decisions on signing are made in December. Representatives of the EU member states, ACP representatives in Brussels and civil society organizations and think tanks participated in this event.

South Centre organizes Working Lunch on Agriculture

The Trade for Development Programme organized a Working Lunch on 18 September on WTO agriculture negotiations to enable developing country delegates to collectively exchange views on the consultations held by the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture between the 3rd and 14th of September and strategize for the next phase of this process.

TDP Staff presented briefly comments prepared by the South Centre to the latest Chairman’s proposed draft modalities and circulated on July 2007 and invited delegations to exchange views. Delegations noted that consultations were characterized by a constructive engagement but that although almost no convergence could be reported at this stage. Main concerns in relation with this process included transparency and lack of clarity in terms of the calendar and program of meetings during the next couple of months.

Strategic Preparation for the WIPO General Assembly

South Centre organized a working lunch meeting on Monday, 17 September to facilitate discussion and assist member states to coordinate and strategize their positions on pertinent agenda items of the upcoming WIPO General Assemblies 2007 to be held from 24 September to 3 October 2007. Over 40 delegates participated in the meeting. A background note was prepared and distributed to delegates to facilitate their participation during the General Assemblies.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Xuan Li, Acting Coordinator of the Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme (IAKP), South Centre. Prof. Carlos Correa attended the meeting in his capacity as Special Advisor to IAKP at the South Centre and provided key insights to the discussions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

South Centre organizes seminar on Debt and Trade: Making Linkages for the Promotion of Development

South Centre, UNCTAD, the Center of Concern/CIDSE and the Equatorial Guinea Investment Group co-organized a seminar on "Debt and Trade: Making Linkages for the Promotion of Development" at Palais des Nations, Geneva on 13 - 14 September 2007.

Dr. Yash Tandon, Executive Director, South Centre gave the opening address and highlighted that the problem of large debt overhangs in developing countries is highly complex and interdependent. Debt can be, and often is, in many developing countries, a major constraint to the development of domestic production and international trade capacity, and a poor trade performance contributes to the debt burden.

Aldo Caliari from Center of Concern/CIDSE noted that trade and debt are interrelated, but the division of labor between international organizations makes it difficult to address them together in a holistic manner.

Barry Herman one of the keynote speaker illustrated the global political linkages between trade and development. He noted that linkages between trade and debt can be made in a way that can either reduce or expand policy space for development for developing countries.

Click here to read the Day 1 and Day 2 of South Face produced during the event.

Delegations from Argentina, Benin, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Senegal were present in the seminar along with officials from international organizations including G-24, IMF, UNCTAD, Commonwealth Secretariat, UN-DESA and Eurodad.

The detailed program of the event is available online at the South Centre Website at:

Press Release:

Agriculture Special Safeguards in the context of EPAs

"WTO provisions do not prevent the ACP countries and the EU from including adequate agriculture safeguards in the EPAs" says Luisa Bernal, Head of Trade for Development Programme (TDP), South Centre in her paper on Agriculture Special Safeguards in the context of EPAs. She adds that given the experience of the ACP countries, particularly the African countries with import surges, it will be important that adequate instruments are provided to them to address this phenomenon in the context of the EPA agreements.

Ms Bernal presented this paper in the session on "Market access and Development challenges in EPAs/WTO Doha Negotiations" at the International Conference on “Commodities, Rules of Origin, Development and Legal Dimensions of the European Union-Africa Economic Partnership Debates: The Nexus between African Issues of Concern in EPAs and the WTO Doha Development Agenda” in Upssala, Sweden on 7-8 September 2007.

The paper reviews the legal aspects related to the WTO compatibility of agriculture safeguards provisions applied between parties to a regional trade agreements, such as the proposed EPAs. It also reviews the policy debates in relation to the incidence of import surges in developing countries which has taken place in the WTO in the context of the Doha round.

The Conference was organized by The Nordic Africa Institute and focused on policy issues related to the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements currently under negotiations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union. Academics and development practitioners participated in the conference.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Legal and Development Implications of Inclusion of Services in the EPAs

South Centre has issued a Policy Brief " WHY INCLUSION OF SERVICES IN THE EPAs IS PROBLEMATIC" which analyses legal and development implications for Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries in negotiating trade in services under the EPAs. The outcome of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations will change a decades-old reciprocal trading regime between the European Union and African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries. Read the publication online at:

It recommends that ESA countries should move really slowly and cautiously on services liberalization with the EU. There is absolute merit in strengthening cooperation, along the lines of what the Lomé Conventions used to contain so that real capacity can be built to provide domestically, to provide for export, to regulate, and so that it is mutually advantageous. As such, ESA countries may want to consider strengthening cooperation as an option to a trade Agreement.

The Policy Brief concludes that ESA countries should focus on developing domestic capacity to provide universal access to basic services, develop export capacity in niche sectors, design and improve regulatory capacity and mainstream intra-regional trade.

Joint South Centre and UNU-WIDER Session at Conference on Southern Engines of Global Growth: China, India, Brazil and South Africa (CIBS)

South Centre organized a joint session with the United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) on "Innovations and Technology Transfer" at the WIDER Conference in Helsinki on 7 September 2007.

The session was chaired by Dr. Yash Tandon, Executive Director of South Centre, and Dr. Guanghua Wan, Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER. Presentations were made on "Patent Application as Indicator of the Geography of Innovation Activities: Problem and Perspectives " by Dr. Xuan Li, Lead Economist, South Centre and on "Breaking the Deadlock on Climate Change Related Technology Transfer" by Vikas Nath, South Centre.

The conference focuses on the inter-linkages between CIBS and the global economy, including the impact of these economies on their respective regions. The session by South Centre reflected on the these changes through the lens of innovations and technology transfer and provided an overview of opportunities and challenges presented by them.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Open Consultation on the Internet Governance Forum 2007

Ms. Viviana Munoz Tellez, Programme Officer, Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme at South Centre participated in the Open Consultations on Internet Governance held on 3 September 2007 in Geneva in preparation for the second annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro 12-15 November 2007.

The South Centre will be elaborating a background note to assist developing country delegates in participating in the upcoming IGF.

The IGF is an outcome of Phase II of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis on November 2005. As a forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on Internet Governance, the IGF is mandated to discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet. Its mandate also includes advising all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world and to contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries.
The five broad themes for the second annual IGF meeting will be: Critical Internet Resources; Access; Diversity; Openess; Security.

Link to the Internet Governance Forum

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Consultations on "Comments to the Chairman’s Draft NAMA Modalities"

The South Centre Trade for Development Programme (TDP) organized a consultation on 4 September 2007 with over 30 delegates from developing countries to discuss the NAMA draft modalities text, recently submitted by the Chairman of the WTO Negotiating Group on Market Access.

As is common in all South Centre work, this meeting was aimed at enhancing the solidarity among developing countries, thereby enhancing their negotiating capacity. As a contribution to developing countries’ understanding of the technical implications of the text being negotiated, Darlan F. Martí presented briefly the background note: "Comments to the Chairman’s Draft NAMA Modalities". This presentation is available for viewing on the South Centre Digital TV, and a full version of the note can be downloaded here.

Expert Group Meeting on Tax Aspects of Domestic Resource Mobilization: A Discussion of Enduring and Emerging Issues

South Centre will be participating in the UN DESA/IFAD Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Tax Aspects of Domestic Resource Mobilization: A Discussion of Enduring and Emerging Issues to be held in Rome on 4-5 September 2007. Dr. Yash Tandon, Executive Director, South Centre will deliver a presentation on "Taxation of private equity funds/investments in domestic jurisdictions" under Agenda 4 on "Trade and Investment-Tax aspects."

According to Dr. Tandon, this privilegization (sic!) of the global corporate sector (which, incidentally, is also the basis of privatization) is at the root of the trepidation (indeed, fear) that governments in the South experience in making bold policies to generate self-motivated economic development, and in creating bold tax regimes. There is all-pervasive apprehension, for example, that increasing tax rates would drive investments out, and that includes both domestic as well as foreign capital. This explains the timidity of much of tax regimes in the countries of the South.

What is required is a paradigm shift that provides a more balanced perspective on the “engines” of growth, so that the corporate or private sector, whist important and significant, does not enjoy a stranglehold over policy such that governments ignore, or downgrade, the role that other social forces and economic actors play in economic growth in the developing countries.

Threat of Technological Protection Measures to a Development-oriented Information Society

South Centre has published its Policy Brief 9 on "The Threat of Technological Protection Measures to a Development-oriented Information Society”.

Developing countries face multiple challenges on access to knowledge and information for their development. One of the challenges is to develop an enabling institutional and policy framework. The development of digital technology and information revolution offer enormous opportunities for the production and access to knowledge goods. Copyright law plays an increasingly important role in providing incentives for the production and promotion access to works. However, such incentives must be balanced with the public interest in access.

The use of technological measures by copyright right-holders to protect works in the digital environment, combined with new international legal obligations to protect such measures poses a threat for developing countries. The obligations should be rejected, or narrowly crafted in national laws so as to promote access to knowledge for development.

Download the Policy Brief in English, French and Spanish.

Panel Discussion on Sustainable Use and Genetic Improvement

Dr. Xuan Li, Lead Economist, South Centre participated in the panel discussion on "Sustainable Use and Genetic Improvement" organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a part of its first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture organized in Interlaken, Switzerland from 3-7 September 2007.

According to Dr. Li, there are at least four challenges we are facing to ensure a sustainable use of animal genetic resources. The first challenge is to re-think of livestock sector policies that "distort the playing field" on which indigenous breeds compete. As we have seen, farmers are often disadvantaged by subsidies on feed, artificial insemination and other inputs that tend to favour exotic breeds. From a policy perspective, there is a need to conduct some systematic policy analysis to assess the implication of the existing livestock policies and respond it accordingly.

The second challenge is, from an economic perspective, an appropriate incentive and funding mechanisms to foster innovation is crucial. Choice needs to be made between patent and alternative mechanism, whichever is more cost-effective to foster sustainable use and innovation.

The third challenge is the interface between animal genetic resources and intellectual property seems to be underestimated. The statement “all the processes of relevant reproduction, data capture, statistics analysis, etc are in the public domain” is inaccurate. In addition, a range of rapidly developing molecular and reproductive biotechnologies also has important implications for An GR management. In order to ensure a sustainable use of animal GR, efforts must be made to carefully examine the interface between animal genetic resources and IP.

The fourth challenge is, a proper scheme to ensure an access to animal genetic resources and technology transfer as well as benefit sharing is necessary. Specifically, there is a strong need to establish an international binding treaty to stimulate the sustainable conservation and use of animal GR. Such a treaty should cover "any genetic material of animal origin of actual or potential value for food and agriculture".

Read full text at: