[Ip-health] Asia Nikkei - ''TPP 11' to freeze drug data protection demanded by US

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Aug 30 23:53:46 PDT 2017


August 31, 2017 3:58 am JST

'TPP 11' to freeze drug data protection demanded by US

Remaining members thrashing out details to revive trade pact

JUN YAMAZAKI, Nikkei staff writer

The chief TPP negotiator for Japan, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, at left, speaks at a
meeting Monday in Australia. © Reuters

SYDNEY -- With the U.S. now out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the
remaining 11 members have effectively agreed to suspend rules involving
pharmaceutical date protection sought by Washington as they try to revive
the regional trade pact.

During a three-day meeting here through Wednesday, the countries' top TPP
negotiators unanimously supported suspending a clause on data exclusivity
-- a rule that prevents competing versions of a new drug from entering the
market for a certain period of time. The U.S. had secured an eight-year
window under the original trade deal, which would enormously benefit major
pharmaceutical companies based there.

"We made significant progress in our discussions about suspending certain
clauses," Kazuyoshi Umemoto, Japan's chief TPP negotiator, told reporters
after the meeting. "We now share a greater understanding."

The 11 members also plan to freeze a requirement that they extend patent
terms should the application face "unreasonable" delays. Though most remain
on board with tariffs and import caps set by the TPP, they have yet to
reach a conclusion on investment rules, copyright protection and other

The countries will decide which specific terms to suspend at their next
meeting in Japan in September, with the aim of reaching a broad agreement
on the so-called TPP 11 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in

Planning ahead

Canada and Mexico came into this week's meeting armed with a list of
provisions they want suspended, a source familiar with the matter said.
Given U.S. demands that TPP terms be incorporated into a revised version of
the North American Free Trade Agreement, the two countries want certain
clauses suspended swiftly. They also are eager to conclude TPP talks so
they can focus on renegotiating NAFTA.

"The countries suddenly began pressing forward on TPP negotiations," the
source said. This could provide tailwinds for a swift agreement on TPP 11.

Japan, Australia and New Zealand focused on shepherding the talks, hoping
to accelerate the process. Some countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia made
verbal requests instead of submitting a formal list, citing delays at home.
Vietnam apparently discussed a TPP clause on ending the favorable treatment
of state-owned companies, among other topics.

Further debate

Any clause can be suspended with unanimous support by the 11 nations, but
it would be reinstated should the U.S. re-enter the TPP. Because those
rules apply to the members' trade with all countries, not just within the
bloc, the U.S. would have reaped the benefits even after its exit. They
hope that a freeze on certain terms will encourage the country to return.

Further debate will be required on clauses that lack unanimous agreement.
Umemoto asked that each country submit a detailed list of requests ahead of
the next meeting so the bloc can decide what other terms to suspend.
Vietnam and Malaysia, for example, are expected to raise additional
demands. The two Southeast Asian countries originally joined the trade deal
in hopes of boosting exports to the U.S., and have been less enthusiastic
about the TPP 11.

"There will be certain clauses we need to revise, instead of just
suspending them," a source familiar with the matter said. But addressing
every complaint would take too long. By simply freezing terms, the bloc
hopes to put the TPP 11 into effect as quickly as possible. Revisions will
require more delicate discussions, and the top TPP negotiators could meet
again as early as October to further the debate.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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