Uncle Sam won't give in

Published: Monday 28 February 2005

Non-congruence over intellectual property rights and agricultural issues have complicated negotiations for a free-trade agreement between the US and the three Andean nations--Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. After the failure of the recent sixth round of talks on these issues, the seventh round got under way on January 31, 2005, and the eighth is scheduled for March 2005.

USfarm subsidies are a major bone of contention. The USnot only refuses to discuss the issue, it also rejects a band of prices for some "sensitive products". This will enable the three countries to apply a tariff on their import to protect local farmers. Peruvian agriculture minister lvaro Quijandra said there is a problem from the Andean nations' side too. Their lists of sensitive products do not coincide.

Regarding intellectual property rights, the USis not ready to change its stance on issues of second-use patents, parallel imports and interpretation of international agreements, which would restrict access to generic drugs.

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