TRIPS and Its Futures
16 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2023
Date Written: June 22, 2023
About three decades ago, the TRIPS Agreement arrived with the establishment of the World Trade Organization. This agreement transformed the international intellectual property regime by marrying intellectual property with trade. Despite having its standards drawn mostly from the Global North, the agreement also provided catch-up opportunities to large emerging countries such as Brazil, China, and India.
While the TRIPS Agreement has provided benefits to some WTO members, other members have struggled with the high international intellectual property standards that had arguably ignored their local needs, national interests, technological capabilities, institutional capacities, and public health conditions. Struggling the most were the world's poorest countries, which have repeatedly asked the WTO to extend their TRIPS transition period. Governments, intergovernmental bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and individual experts have also condemned the significant deleterious effects of the TRIPS Agreement and TRIPS-plus bilateral, regional, and plurilateral trade agreements.
As we head towards the thirtieth anniversary of the WTO, it is high time we explore what the future will hold for the TRIPS Agreement. This chapter begins by revisiting the past to examine whether the TRIPS Agreement would have been adopted had it been negotiated today. The chapter then discusses whether a major overhaul of the agreement will take place in the near future. Taking note of the fast-evolving international normsetting environment and the lack of breakthroughs in the Doha Round in the past decade, this chapter concludes by offering three recommendations on how the TRIPS Agreement could, and should, be updated even without a major overhaul.
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