Trading Knowledge As A Public Good: A Proposal For The WTO

Rachel Marusak Hermann | Intellectual Property Watch | October 14, 2011

Years of deadlock in the Doha Round of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has prompted some to question the institution’s effectiveness, and even, its relevance. But for others, the stalemate seems to be favourable for new ideas and new ways to think about global trade.

During the 19-21 September WTO Public Forum 2011, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and IQsensato, both not-for-profit organisations, held a joint panel session on a proposal to the WTO entitled, “An Agreement on the Supply of Knowledge as a Global Public Good.” The 21 September session provided a space to debate the feasibility of adding the supply of public goods involving knowledge as a new category in negotiated binding commitments in international trade.

James Love, director of KEI, presented the idea. “The agreement,” he explained, “combines voluntary offers with binding commitments by governments to increase the supply of heterogeneous public goods. It would be analogous to existing WTO commitments to reducing tariffs, subsidies, or liberalising services.”...