US trade policy threatens the lives of millions

February 12, 2004
Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
Didier Claude Rod, a member of the European Parliament

The United States imposes unacceptable provisions on its trade partners when negotiating bilateral free-trade agreements. Yesterday in Central America as well as today in Morocco, the United States is deliberately trying to impose intellectual property provisions which are much stricter than the ones required by the TRIPS agreement of the WTO. The health of millions is endangered by such provisions.

"We are heading straight for a health disaster", declared Dr. Didier Claude Rod, a member of the European Parliament. "The conditions which were negotiated in Doha at least guaranteed the right of governments to give precedence to public health over the commercial interests of transnational corporations through the use of the TRIPS agreement's flexibilities. But Americans and Europeans are doing their best to prevent governments from resorting to them. Hence people who are infected with diseases such as AIDS and who could be treated, will not have access to medicines at least in the next twenty years!" he added.

The 4th Ministerial Conference in Doha stated that "the TRIPS Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members'right to protect public health and, in particular, to provide access to medicines for all." The United States, on the contrary, is doing its best to reinforce intellectual property rights, imposing TRIPS+ provisions which are harder than the actual WTO agreement.

Morocco is currently being pressured. If the government gives in to such pressures, it will have to authorize patent protection for longer than a 20 year term (which is the basic TRIPS requirement). It will also have to postpone the registration of generics due to data exclusivity clauses. Finally, it will have to broaden the conditions for patenting, thus making it easier to obtain a patent. This will allow already patented products to be patented a second time. "Patent protection will thus be extended excessively. Blocking the registration of generics will make it possible for a monopolistic system to develop. It will be different from the patent system as it will end up giving exclusive marketing rights to one company.If we keep on like this, medicines will be inaccessible for ever!"Dr Rod complained.

"What the US is doing is supporting provisions that go against the Doha Agreement. If Morocco is forced into giving in to these indecent pressures, it might create a precedent that will impede other developing countries from putting up resistance to similar pressures,"Dr. Rod pointed out.

"The WHO must act upon this issue immediately. A possible option would be to forbid any intellectual property provisions in the bilateral free-trade agreements which are currently being negotiated, at least those concerning public health. This would give time to find a compromise in the interest of poor countries," Dr Rod concluded.

Office of Didier Claude ROD, MEP (Greens/efa)
European parliament-ASP 08 G 250
B-1047 Brussels
Tel +32 2 284 74 37-Fac +32 2 284 94 37

Return to: CPTech Home -> Main IP Page -> IP and Healthcare -> US-Morocco FTA Page