Making the WTO Accession Work for Ethiopia: Lessons from Cambodia and Nepal

World Trade Organization (WTO) was established with the main objective of liberalizing multilateral trade, based on the belief that trade liberalization brings multiple benefits to the world population. To this end, the preamble to the Agreement Establishing the WTO (Marrakesh Agreement), provides that “[t]he Parties to this Agreement, recognizing that their relations in the field of trade and economic [endeavor] should be conducted to raise standards of living, ensure full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand.”

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Ethiopia’s Accession to World Trade Organization (WTO): The Need to Reform Ethiopian Patent Law to Facilitate Access to Medicine

As a country dealing with a pending WTO accession procedure, Ethiopia is required/expected to go through different legal reforms to have WTO-compliant domestic laws. Inter alia, the country needs to review its laws to protect intellectual properties as envisaged under the rule of WTO. However, adopting WTO-compliant rules to protect intellectual property, especially patent, exhibits a cross-road of patent protection and access to patented inventions such as pharmaceuticals. It is logical to think that strong patent protection highly challenges an eased public access to the patented invention since the very nature of patent provides a stronger exclusive right to the right holder. To systematically deal with the issue of balancing patent protection to right holders and access to medicine to the public, different countries successfully reformed their laws to facilitate access to medicine while still adhering to WTO’s patent rules. Thus, scrutinizing areas of reforms under Ethiopian patent law, to facilitate access to medicine before joining the WTO, would help the country to adopt WTO-compliant rules that exhaustively address/exploit all exceptions, flexibilities and legal loopholes available to facilitate access to medicine.

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The Application of other public international laws in WTO dispute settlement

While WTO laws are international treaties and hence part of international law, they were not as such regarded as they are found in that corpus. As a result, the role of other public international law within the WTO dispute settlement is not yet clear.  In that whether, the dispute settlement body of the WTO in deciding cases would consult the rules and principles of other public international laws is not well articulated. The paper will examine the applicability of other international laws in the WTO dispute settlement based on the WTO frame work and jurisprudence of international law. Finally, I argue that other international laws can be applied in the settlement of disputes under the WTO in case where they are relevant and proper for the theme.

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