Implementing TRIPS to prove tricky

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 28>:

Following its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Nepal faces a rocky road ahead in implementing trade related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Experts were of the opinion that Nepal has a huge stock of domestic resources, but remains uncertain as to how to utilise these for economic benefits, due primarily to a weak implementation mechanism and a low level of technology penetration. Abullaish, executive director of Centre for Education and Development Administration (CEDA), giving his introductory remarks said that capacity enhancement is needed in the country to exploit the potentials of natural resources. For this an effective implementation mechanism under the TRIPS and Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) provision will be crucial.

He was addressing an interaction programme organised by CEDA and International Economic Society of Nepal (IESON). Hakon Hynne, first secretary, Royal Norwegian embassy opined that TRIPS is about copyrights to extract economic benefits from products such as trademarks, videocassettes, and movies, among others. These sorts of products, in the context of WTO membership, will benefit Nepal economically if the mechanism is ready at hand.

Dr Ramesh Chitrtakar, coordinator of IESON spoke about various activities being carried out by IESON on various issues. Chitrakar said that TRIPS and CBD are the pillars of WTO that need to be taken care of seriously. He stressed on the need to implement policies to realise the existing potentials. Presenting a paper, Dr Surendra Bhandari, Advocate of Law Associates said that despite being one of the most important user of intellectual property rights, the private itself is not very articulate to use intellectual property rights as a tool to promote trade and fair competition. Bhandari stressed that unless the society espouses positive attitudes towards intellectual property rights and the private sector becomes keen to use intellectual property rights regime, it cannot be integrated for development and growth of the country.

He opined that one of the major constraints in Nepal to obtain benefits of CBD and TRIPS is the inadequate institutional capability. Institutional capability of both public and private sectors needs to be strengthened, opined Bhandari at the function. "With the protection of intellectual property rights, Nepal can invite foreign direct investment, generate employment, reduce poverty, thereby fuelling economic growth." Nepal has a comparative advantage of genetic resources available in various ecosystems and adverse temperatures that can be commercially exploited when a strong intellectual property right system is in place, experts added. Nepal is a contracting party to CBD. In terms of land Nepal shares only 0.1 per cent of the global land but in terms of biodiversity, it is one of the very richest countries in the world, which harbours 2.2 per cent of the flowering plant species.