[Ip-health] HIV patients urge caution on EU FTA talks

Jockey jockey.kit at gmail.com
Thu Sep 20 17:18:55 PDT 2012


HIV patients urge caution on EU FTA talks
 Petchanet Pratruangkrai

The Nation September 21, 2012 1:00 am
People afflicted with the Aids virus have called on the government to
proceed carefully on free-trade negotiations with the European Union, as
the latter's demands for copyright protection could make it difficult for
patients to access cheap medicines. About 30 HIV-positive patients and the
FTA Watch Group yesterday went to the Commerce Ministry calling for the
government to be cautious on what it commits to during talks on a
free-trade agreement with the EU.

They said the government should not accept any demands that go beyond the
World Trade Organisation's agreement on Trade Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In an open letter submitted to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, patients
raised concern that Thailand could lose opportunities to access cheap drugs
if the government is only concerned about tariff reductions for some
products it wants to export to the EU market.

The letter stated that although Thailand might not immediately suffer any
negative impact from this FTA if it committed to stringent protection of
intellectual-property rights, the country would face huge losses from
higher prices for medicines.

The letter noted that about 70 per cent of the public health budget was
spent on medicines each year. That amount could rise greatly and create a
long-term impact on the Kingdom's spending.

The letter was also submitted to Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong,
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom and Public Health Minister Witthaya

Last graf says there have been 50. The activists called on the government
to ensure compliance with the Constitution before making commitments to any
country on liberalising markets or adopting any agreements that could have
impacts on Thais' economic and social well-being.

According to the department, Thailand and the EU have not yet officially
started the first round of FTA talks. The draft of the negotiation plan is
waiting for the Cabinet and Parliament's ratification under the

More than 50 public hearings have been conducted to voice concerns and
opinions from public and involved private enterprises.

Thailand and the EU plan to start the first round of talks early next year.

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