This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS ABUJA 002694
DEPT FOR EB/TPP/MTA/IPC:DBEAN, USTR FOR CBURCKY
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KIPR ECON ETRD KSEP USTR SUBJECT: NIGERIA: TRIPS AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES
REF: STATE 175220
1. EconOff delivered reftel demarche October 16 to Mr. Y.T. Agah, head of Multilateral Affairs at the Federal Ministry of Commerce. EconOff emphasized the need for a balanced approach that protects intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical patent holders while permitting developing countries to address public health crises. Agah agreed, adding that Nigeria had no intention of violating the intellectual property rights of patent holders.
2. EconOff raised concern over the inclusion of language, tabled by developing countries, that declares "nothing in the TRIPS Agreement shall prevent members from taking measures to protect public health." EconOff added that this language was open to interpretation that could allow member-states to violate TRIPS. Agah replied that perhaps this language could be negotiated, although it was important that interpretations of TRIPS not prevent states from protecting its citizens in the case of health crises.
3. Regarding the provision allowing for compulsory licensing in a member-state that does not have domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, Agah said the GON wanted to retain flexibility in case interpretations of Article 31 would prevent this from occurring. Agah said it was important that developing countries table these issues now, even if they were not relevant until January 1, 2005.
4. Comment. The Multilateral Office of the Ministry of Commerce has only eight officers responsible for all WTO issues. These officers share two computers that work only sporadically, due to power outages and failures. Moreover, Agah admitted, his officers lack the capacity to analyze and interpret WTO issues, such as TRIPS. Therefore, the Commerce Ministry often relies on other developing countries' views to inform its position. Capacity-building and training are critically needed for Nigeria to take the initiative on, and provide leadership for, multilateral trade issues in Africa. Jeter