Published: Monday 15 May 1995

President Carlos Menem of Argentina has thrown up his arms on the issue of the country's new patent law, lambasted both at home and by Washington. The law, which was recently approved by the Argentinian Congress, was described as 11 piracy" by the us Republican Senator Bob Dole. Even the European Community has joined in the tirade. "If the United States takes this position, and Europe as well, what can we do?". moaned a hapless Menem at Buenos Aites.

i The articles that the critics find particularly offensive are those deferring the availability of patent protection for pharmaceutical products Until AD 2003, or that of vatent being granted only for products manufactured locally. These, said us officials, flagrantly violate various international trade agreements. However, on the domestic front, Menem has been drawing flak for "surrendering at the feet of superpowers". The beleaguered President feels that the law, which differed from the international legislation on several counts, might land the nation in a verv uncomfortable position.

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