[Ip-health] Notes from USTR / NGOs meeting on the TPP, June 30, 2010

Michael Palmedo mpalmedo at wcl.american.edu
Thu Jul 1 08:02:39 PDT 2010

Notes from USTR / NGOs meeting on the TPP, June 30, 2010


(These are combined notes from WCL student Prudence Cho and I)


Barbara Weisel opened with a description of the San Francisco round that
just ended.  She said there were four main goals that the negotiators
had going into the talks:

-          Clarifying the relationship between the TPP and the existing
trade agreements among the members.  USTR would like the TPP to be the
primary FTA whenever possible, and they realize that the TPP may lead to
trade obligations that exceed those of other trade agreements among
members.  It will be decided later and on a case-by-case basis what will
happen if the TPP conflicts with other agreements. In all cases, they
want these issues to be figured out transparently.

-          Market access for agriculture and textiles. These obligations
involve transitional periods.  Countries are pretty far apart on this
set of issues. 

-          Texts.  The negotiators want to begin tabling texts in the
third round in October in Brunnei.  (They want to have texts ready to go
internally in September.)  At the San Francisco round, they went over
what the specific issues in each chapter ought to be.   They acknowledge
it may not be possible to have full texts ready for each of the
chapters, but they will do what they can. 

-          Horizontal Issues, also called "cross-cutting" or "21st
Century" issues.  These are issues that will come up in many of the
individual chapters, and that may or may not additionally become
chapters themselves.  

o   Competitiveness and supply chain issues

o   Small and Medium Enterprises

o   Development

o   Regional competition

o   Transparency

o   Regulatory coherence

o   Making the TPP a "living FTA" - meaning it can grow and change 


Trade associations and NGOs were present in San Francisco, and they got
a chance to talk with negotiators from all of the different countries.
The next round will be held in Brunei Darussalam in October. 




During Q&A, there was little talk about the specifics of what might wind
up in the TPP.


I asked if the TPP would include a chapter on pharmaceuticals similar to
Chapter 5 of the Korea-US FTA or Annex 2(c) of the US-Australia FTA.  If
there is going to be such a chapter, would it include protection for
Medicaid's price negotiations?  Barbara Weisel said that the negotiators
walked through the standard chapters in FTAs with the US, including the
IPRs chapter, but that pharmaceuticals chapters like those in KORUS Ch.
5 had not been discussed.


I asked how development as a horizontal issue would apply to IP?  Would
it emphasize the flexibilities and limitations to IP that are found in
TRIPS?  Stan McCoy said that the IP discussions were "open floor" and
people could bring up whatever issues they wanted, including
development.  He said they are all well aware of the access to medicines
issue, and all that of the countries acknowledge that IP can play an
important role in economic development. 


When asked about transparency, USTR staff said that they discussed this
at the meeting, and that they went over the transparency measures in US
FTAs and those of the other FTAs among TPP countries.  All the
negotiators want to be transparent.  When asked specifically if people
could go to the next round, the answer was that its up to the host
country, but if you get a visa and a ticket, you can do what you want. 


When discussing regulatory coherence, Stan McCoy brought up efforts to
coordinate the ways that applicants obtain IP.  He mentioned the PCT and
the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, and said that these types
of coordination can save applicants a lot of time and money. 


When asked about how development would be applied to each of the
chapters, USTR did not give examples, but said that Vietnam and Brunei
had ideas on this. 


Stephanie asked Barbara if there was an opportunity for groups to
discuss text with USTR before it was finalized and the answer was a
strong "Yes."  They will meet with big groups or little groups.  The
clock is ticking, however, so if you want to influence the text, meet
with them by the end of August at the latest. 


Other countries may join.  The TPP is open to all APEC countries.
Canada and Malaysia have expressed interest, but each are still having
domestic debates about joining.  Negotiators would prefer it if other
countries that want to join did so earlier in the process rather than
later.  If other countries join, the US will have to go back to Congress
and notify them (and other countries will need to notify their
legislatures as well).  



Mike Palmedo

Assistant Director

Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property

American University Washington College of Law

4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20016

T - 202-2274-4442 | F - 202-274-4495

mpalmedo at wcl.american.edu


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