Monday, 22 February 2010

Free Trade Agreements - who benefits?

Central America
The eighth round of negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Central America is around the corner. However, there is concern regarding the EU ambitious on Intellectual Property. The main worry is about access to medicines. Specifically, the 20 years duration and the data protection period are the thorny points. The EU proposes to extend both of them.

Studies showing how the proposed EU Intellectual Property could harm public health argue that the European Commission negotiators cannot longer claim ignorance about the harmful consequences of rigid regulations on intellectual property.

Peru and Colombia
Also around the corner is the FTA between this two Andean countries and the EU. However, newspapers reports are looking at the bigger picture. They inform that domestic producers are optimistic about their chances, since they seek to improve their access conditions for goods made in the country to a common market that has nearly 500 million people. For instance, in 2009 the EU was the second destination of Colombian exports with sales of $4.698 million. The intention is to increase that figure.

Once the agreement is into force, it will benefit industries such as leather, textiles and garments. The agricultural sector will also grow, as there will be tariff-free quotas for sugar and meat.

Of course, they are not turning a blind eye in certain issues such as bananas - taxes to enter the EU market were reduced from 176 to 114 euros per tonne in the framework of a negotiation in the WTO, but the Colombian negotiators aim to bring it down to 75 euros. Additional striking fields are the sales of services, and biodiversity.

While there is hope there is also concern. Surely this is normal in any agreement, even in marriage!

Impact of the EU-Andean Trade Agreements on Access to Medicines in Peru (Health Action International (HAI) final report here).

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