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NGO statement on need for WTO moratorium on regional and bilateral trade agreements undermining access to health

December 17, 2005

Joint NGO Statement on Need for WTO Moratorium on Regional and
Bilateral Trade Agreements and Policies Undermining Access to Health

The following NGOs call upon WTO Members and their trade negotiators
to protect the public from the explosion of one-sided and harmful
regional and bilateral trade agreements that impose TRIPS plus
obligations on developing countries that undermine access to
medicine. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Restrictions to the grounds for compulsory licensing,
  2. Restrictions on parallel trade,
  3. Controversial obligations to create exclusive rights to the test
    data used to register new drugs,
  4. Extensions of patent terms beyond 20 years,
  5. Obligations for drug regulators to enforce patents of dubious
    validity or relevance, and
  6. Obligations to grant patents on second uses of medicines.

These regional and bilateral trade agreements are the product of very
unequal power relations. They are a deliberate effort to undermine
the multilateral trading system. They are contrary to the values
expressed in the 2001 WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

Unless the WTO can place meaningful restraints on such trade
negotiations, consumers, including poor consumers, will not be
protected from the effects of excessive and inappropriate
intellectual property rules.

We ask that Members agree to a moratorium on any new bilateral and
regional trade agreements that include provisions involving
intellectual property rights and medicines, and that all WTO Members
agree they will not enforce any provisions in such agreements that
are contrary to the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

We can no longer tolerate public officials patting themselves on the
back for laudatory declarations on access to medicines that are not
backed up by actions, and which are not only ignored in practice, but
which are actively subverted in these regional and bilateral agreements.

We ask these issues be specifically addressed in the spring meeting
of the WTO that follows the Hong Kong Ministerial.

Signed (Listed alphabetically)

Act Up-Paris
ALCS (Association de Lutte Contre le Sida)
All India Drug Action Network
Consumer Project on Technology
Consumers International
Consumers Union
Diverse Women for Diversity
EATG (European AIDS Treatment Group)
Foundation for Consumers, Thailand
FTA Watch, Thailand
Health and Development Foundation, Thailand
International Peoples Health Council
MSF Access to Essential Medicines Campaign
Oxfam International
People’s Health Movement
Peoples Health Network
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology
Thai Drug Study Group
The Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+)
Third World Network