EU gives ASEAN 4.5 million euros for intellectual property project

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Through its FTAs, the European Union wants Asian countries to enforce EU trademarks, copyrights, geographic indications etc under criminal law

Deutsche Presse Agentur | 21 October 2009

EU gives ASEAN 4.5 million euros for intellectual property project

Bangkok — The European Commission on Wednesday provided 4.5 million euros (6.7 million dollars) to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help protect intellectual property in the region, where piracy is rampant.

’This is laying down some fundamental elements that would move us further towards the eventual goal of a free trade agreement with the EU,’ ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said after accepting the European Commission (EC) funding.

The European Union has put on ’pause’ negotiations to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with ASEAN after failing to reach a commitment from the regional bloc for a comprehensive and ’ambitious’ pact.

The EU has decided to pursue bilateral FTAs with ASEAN member states instead, with the first likely to be implemented with Singapore. ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ASEAN has signed partial FTAs with Australia, China, India, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Last week South Korea signed an FTA with the EU.

Weak protection of intellectual property rights is just one of many issues that have hindered more European investment and trade in ASEAN.

The EC spent 7.5 million euros on two previous projects aimed at bolstering intellectual property awareness in ASEAN, a region notorious for widespread copying of DVDs, CDs, software and brand-name goods from Gucci bags to Rolex watches.

The third phase of the project, called EC-ASEAN Intellectual Rights Project, or ECAP III, will aim at capacity building, training of enforcement agencies, introduction of geographic indication protection, and awareness building in the region.

’This is all about ASEAN integration,’ EC Ambassador to Thailand David Lipmann said.

The project aims to bolster intellectual property protection for both foreign goods and local innovations.

’ECAP III will strengthen further our region-wide effort in order to bring awareness and commitment to IP protection both for the property rights from outside the region and more and more on creations here in the region by the member states,’ Surin said.

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source: DPA