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I-EU CEPA negotiations hijack democratic rights and ignore potentional impacts on society

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Indonesia AIDS Coalition - 01 July 2024

I-EU CEPA negotiations hijack democratic rights and ignore potentional impacts on society

The Indonesian and European Union governments held the 19th round of negotiations for the Indonesia-European Union Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or I-EU CEPA, on July 1–5, 2024.

In connection with the round of negotiations, Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) and the Indonesia AIDS Coalition (IAC) criticized the I-EU CEPA, which hijacked the people’s rights to democracy while ignoring the negotiations’ wider impact. The I-EU CEPA negotiations lacked transparency, ignored public aspirations, and did not allow for meaningful participation from civil society groups. Furthermore, the I-EU CEPA negotiations also fail to consider the social, environmental, and human rights impacts that could occur and affect the wider community.

Rahmat Maulana Sidik, the IGJ Executive Director, declared the need to end the I-EU CEPA negotiations due to their failure to cater to the interests of the people. This is proven by the negotiation process, which was carried out behind closed doors and did not provide any information regarding the main points of the negotiations or their impact on the community.

Maulana stated, "This will harm the community in the future because it forces them to implement an agreement whose substance is unknown or which they may not even desire."

"The I-EU CEPA negotiation process has violated Law No. 13 of 2022 concerning Law Formulation, which requires public participation in every policy-making process, including trade negotiations between Indonesia and other countries. Furthermore, the I-EU CEPA negotiations violate Constitutional Court Decision No. 13/PUU-XVI/2018 concerning International Agreements, which requires public participation in every trade agreement process," added Maulana.

The I-EU CEPA’s Impact on Public Access to Affordable Medicines

Regarding the impact of the negotiations on public health, Lutfiyah Hanim, the IGJ Senior Researcher, explained that the I-EU CEPA will impact the public access to medicines. In the Intellectual Property chapter of I-EU CEPA, there are ‘TRIPS Plus’ clauses, which are a form of stricter Intellectual Property Rights protection compared to international standards set by the World Trade Organization (WTO). TRIPS Plus includes provisions on data and market exclusivity, prohibitions on parallel imports, and extensions of the patent protection period, all of which could potentially hinder public access to affordable medicines. Extensions of the patent protection period, for example, will slow down the entry of generic drugs into the market and cause drug prices to become expensive due to monopolies.

"Therefore, the GoI must firmly reject the European Union’s proposals regarding the extension of the patent protection period, data and market exclusivity, and prohibitions on parallel imports. "In the current situation, the price of drugs protected by patents is extremely high. In fact, generic versions of the same drugs are available in other countries, but they cannot enter because the originator version remains patented," according to Lutfiyah Hanim.

Drug patent monopolies have impacted the public’s access to drugs. Ferry Norila, the IAC’s Communication, Campaign, & Advocacy Coordinator, said that most of the new-generation drugs for HIV, TB, and other diseases are still patented, so the prices are very expensive. "Free trade agreements, including the I-EU CEPA, are detrimental and have a serious impact on public access to drugs. "Patient groups firmly reject the TRIPS Plus clauses proposed by the European Union. Because TRIPS Plus will further strengthen monopolies, increase drug prices, and eliminate the potential for generic drug production," said Ferry Norila.

One example is drugs for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in Indonesia. Arni Rismayanti, Chair of the Indonesian Pulmonary Hypertension Foundation (YHPI), said that pulmonary hypertension patients’ access to medicines is still limited. Many of the much-needed medicines are not available in Indonesia or are sold at exorbitant prices. For example, in developed countries, the originator version of Ambrisentan costs 60 million Rupiah for one month of consumption. While the generic version available in India is, at the most expensive, around 2.5 million Rupiah per month. It is clear that there is a drastic price difference. Because the drug is not available in Indonesia, patients must buy it from India, with other additional costs.

Another drug is Macitentan, which in Indonesia costs 31 million Rupiah for one month. While the generic version costs only 1.5 million Rupiah per month. Variations in the types of pulmonary hypertension drugs are very much needed by patients because of the progressive nature of the disease. Over time, patients need dosing adjustments and variations in the types of pulmonary hypertension drugs to survive.

"Among the 15 types of pulmonary hypertension drugs available, Endothelin Receptor Antagonist drugs (Bosentan, Ambrisentan, and Macitentan) are the most affordable, besides Beraprost, Iloprost, and Sildenafil, which are available in Indonesia. While the rest can reach hundreds of millions for one month’s consumption," explained Arni Rismayanti.

As a result, patient groups, one of the groups most affected by the I-EU CEPA, expressed their strong rejection of this trade agreement. "Once again, we reject the TRIPS Plus clauses in the I–EU CEPA. In the current situation, Indonesia relies heavily on generic drugs to meet the community’s health needs. Patents still protect most new-generation drugs, making them expensive and difficult to access. If this condition continues, especially for diseases such as HIV, TB, and cancer, then the burden of drug costs will become increasingly expensive. Not only for individuals, but also for the country,” emphasized Ferry.

The significance of this point lies in the fact that the Indonesian Government and the European Union aim to conclude the I-EU CEPA negotiation process by October 2024, with the Intellectual Property chapter among the 10 issues still undergoing negotiations. "We do not want the GoI to rush into negotiations and agree to clauses that are clearly detrimental, one of which is TRIPS Plus. For this reason, we encourage the Directorate General of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, as a member of the Working Group on IPR, and the Directorate General of International Trade Negotiations of the Ministry of Trade to continue to maintain Indonesia’s position as a sovereign country and not submit to the demands of other parties in the negotiations. No deal is better than a bad deal,” Ferry concluded.

Contact person:

Agung Prakoso, Program Officer, Indonesia for Global Justice

Budi Larasati, Project Officer, Indonesia AIDS Coalition

 source: Indonesia AIDS Coalition