- About bilaterals.org
- How to participate
- Key issues
- Texts of agreements
FTAs: Trading away traditional knowledge
New from GRAIN
09 March 2006
FTAs: Trading away traditional knowledge
by GRAIN in collaboration with Dr Silvia Rodríguez Cervantes
In the last couple of years, bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) have become immensely popular with governments disillusioned by the slow pace of trade liberalisation talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). At present there are over 200 FTA negotiating processes under way across the globe. While ostensibly aimed at breaking down trade barriers, these agreements are increasingly targeting indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ traditional knowledge in very real ways.
Traditional knowledge has come up in a dozen or so FTA drafting processes over the last couple of years. In half of those cases, specific provisions on traditional knowledge were signed. The pattern at play is simple. When facing the US, trade negotiators concerned about "biopiracy" try to put limits on when and how researchers and corporations can get patents on biodiversity or traditional knowledge in the United States. When the US is not involved in the trade deal, they carve out space to define their own legal systems of "rights" to traditional knowledge. In all cases, however, these FTAs are framing traditional knowledge as intellectual property - a commodity to be bought and sold.
With no consensus on how to "protect" traditional knowledge at the international level, much less in each of these FTA-negotiating countries, governments are fast committing themselves to a one-track approach through these trade pacts: traditional knowledge as a commodity to be bought and sold under the conventional rules of exclusive private property.
This 16-page briefing is available from GRAIN at http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=196.
A Spanish translation will be available shortly.
bilaterals.org and a new ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) platform to be hosted at bilaterals.org seek to hire a coordinator for their work. This is a great opportunity for someone interested in working on a full-time, paid basis to support people’s struggles against so-called free trade and investment deals globally, through a job share for two separate but complementary projects.
Find out more.
News from the movements
30-Jul-2015 The Associated PressAbout 400 protesters blew conch shells on a Hawaii beach to demonstrate against a trade agreement being negotiated by ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations.
29-Jul-2015 Center for International Environmental LawA coalition of environmental and fair trade organizations are protesting the inclusion of language in the “Customs bill” in the US Congress that would explicitly prevent the United States Trade Representative from seeking to address climate change in trade agreements.
28-Jul-2015 Maui NowA coalition of advocates for the environment, labor, health and native Hawaiians will gather on Kāʻanapali Beach, outside the negotiators’ hotel, to speak out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
27-Jul-2015 APWLDAsia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development have prepared a toolkit for groups that want to join the struggle against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
25-Jul-2015 Malaysia KiniAs the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) enter what could be its last round, we as people living with HIV/Aids (PLHIV), urge the Malaysian government not to trade away our lives.
23-Jul-2015 Intenational Business TimesAnonymous claims responsibility for a cyber-attack conducted against a US government website because of TTIP and TPP talks
22-Jul-2015bilaterals.org and a new ISDS platform to be hosted at bilaterals.org seek to hire a coordinator for their work.
21-Jul-2015 MediapartCommunication faite par Jaques Berthelot le 14 juillet à Bruxelles au cours de l’audition du Parlement européen sur l’Accord de partenariat économique UE-Afrique de l’Ouest.
bilaterals.org is a collaborative space to share information and support movements struggling against bilateral trade and investment deals which serve corporations, not people. Multilingual. Global. No one owns it. Open publishing. Get involved.