Wednesday, 21 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
107. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on Commissioner Mandelson’s concerns in regard to intellectual property issues in trade with China; the action he advocates at both national and European levels; if the matter has been discussed at European Council of Ministers meetings; if his Department has discussed the issue at the World Trade Organisation; if so, the manner in which they were discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23504/06]
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. M. Ahern): The Deputy appears to be referring to a recent speech by Commissioner Mandelson, at Renmin University in Beijing, at which he encouraged China to meet its World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations or risk a backlash from Europe. I have noted the Commissioner’s comments in which he pointed to the need for effective action by China on several WTO fronts including, in respect of Intellectual Property (IP) issues.
It must be acknowledged that China has made significant strides since joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in strengthening its legal framework and amending laws on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to comply with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Despite these improvements, known IPR infringements, in the form of counterfeiting and piracy, remains a major problem. There remains considerable concern over enforcement measures which to date have not been sufficient to deter IPR infringements effectively. IP in trade terms is not the sole preserve of Member States. The European Commission, on the basis of a mandate from the European Council, negotiates on behalf of EU Member States with Third Country WTO Members. In this regard the EU has recently transmitted a Communication to the WTO TRIPS Council designed to raise the level of awareness of problems regarding effective enforcement.
In addition the EU has on-going bilateral initiatives with countries, including with China, aimed at improving communication and co-operation on the protection of IPRs and the establishment of a long-term strategy on IPR enforcement supported by EU technical assistance programmes.
Ireland, as with other EU Member States, supports the EU approach on enforcement. This approach to China, and to other third countries presenting challenges in this regard, is based on the collective trading interests of the EU Member States and on the need to protect our firms’ IP. The objective of the approach is to improve the legal and institutional and also, the enforcement regimes, in third countries to facilitate trade.
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