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International Trade and the Environment: The WTO and the New Beginning

Robert Page

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Intellectual Property Rights

The Uruguay Round includes a new agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which apply to areas such as environmental technology and biotechnology. The agreement sets standards for the protection of copyright, trademarks, geographic product designations, industrial designs, patents, and other issues of a proprietary nature. Many developing countries opposed this as a barrier to technology transfer while industrialized states claimed that protecting patents would increase corporate willingness to export the most advanced technologies. However, the ability to pay remains a major stumbling block. The issue of protecting biotechnology is even more controversial given the concern to protect the diversity of the gene pool from the commercial drive for hybrid monoculture. Both of these topics will provide lively debates for the future sessions of the Trade and Environment SubCommittee.

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