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EU-ASEAN proposals on intellectual property too sweeping, say consumers

Bangkok Post | 22/02/2009



The proposed EU-Asean free trade policy on intellectual property rights protection is too sweeping, says a consumer group.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should reject it, says Jiraporn Limpananont, head of the Foundation for Consumers.

Thailand would get less say on agriculture, biodiversity and public health access.

The EU-Asean agreement, which is in the process of negotiation, demands extension of intellectual property rights protection including that for plants and medicines.

It also goes beyond US trade policy, and the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights under the World Trade Organisation (Trips), Ms Jiraporn said.

Civic groups could stage a protest against the trade proposal during the 14th Asean summit this week.

Ms Jiraporn, a former academic at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, said Article 9 regarding patents demands that Asean, as a trade party, commit to IP protection which is not in line with Trips.

The Asean community would also be required to supplement protection certificates, which extend rights protection for various EU patented products, including medicines.

In addition, the proposal would prevent the marketing of generic versions of medicines that are not even protected by patents, as well as those produced or imported under compulsory licensing (CL).

The IP chapter tabled by the EU for talks with Asean would increase standards of intellectual property rights protection, duration of exclusive rights and marketing regulation rules favouring monopolies, and limit public access to medicines, she said.

Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul, FTA Watch member, said Article 11, which enforces patent protection on plant varieties based on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, also goes beyond Trips requirements.

Such additional enforcement on the period of plant protection would hurt farmers in Asean communities, but enable multinational agriculture corporations to monopolise trade in agriculture, she said.

 source: Bangkok Post