Canada Weakens Its Opposition to U.S. Proposals on Intellectual Property Rights

An update to my November 2013 CIPS Blog post

It appears that Canada may be dropping its objections to many of the US TRIPS+ proposals on intellectual property rights. On the last day of the Singapore TPP meetings (December 10, 2013), observers in the Washington Trade Daily commented:

Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among others, dropped their objections to the high-standard disciplines in intellectual property and came on board by agreeing to the modified text. Effectively, there is consensus on the intellectual property dossier except for one developing country, WTD was told.

The ‘high-standard disciplines’ refer to the extreme protections on intellectual property rights that the US has been pushing, and to which most of the other 12 TPP negotiations (including Canada) objected. According to the USTR site, the only modification to the original IPR proposals Canada rejected at the Salt Lake City TPP meetings (November 19-24) was to promote ‘a differential approach’, giving more IPR latitude to developing countries that are part of the eventual agreement.

No details on this differential approach have been released. But the bottom line remains: these IPR provisions in the TPP would substantially weaken the public health flexibilities hard won at the WTO, and with the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. As the Nobel economist and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote publicly on December 6th to all chief negotiators in the TPP, “we do not need a TRIPS plus trade agreement, we need a TRIPS minus agreement”.

Canadian TPP negotiators, please take note: the Canadian (and global) public health community—and a growing chorus of eminent economists—does not want a TRIPS+ chapter in the TPP. Perhaps the Washington Trade Daily report of acquiescing to the US position is in error; the future health of many in our country and elsewhere may depend on that.

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