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US, Andean countries fail to make progress in FTA talks

Xinhuanet | 30 October 2004

US, Andean countries fail to make progress in FTA talks

QUITO, Oct. 29 (Xinhuanet) — The fifth round of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru ended Friday without progress in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil.

The controversial issues were agriculture and intellectual property.

Washington insisted, as it did in previous rounds, that the Andean countries should remove tariffs in key sectors so that US products could have more market access, according to reports from Guayaquil.

"In the process, the Andean countries will have to improve their offers to us, so they will offer us a meaningful access to their markets," said US chief negotiator Regina Varo.

However, negotiators of the Andean countries refused to remove protection mechanisms for their agricultural products.

The Andean countries wanted Washington to lessen protection of pharmaceutical patents. They demanded that patents should not be protected after 20 years, while the United States sought to extend protection for another 10 years.

The United States wants the FTA to be ready by January 2005, when seven rounds of negotiations would have been completed.

 source: Xinhuanet