One of the many reasons why the Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations has been put on indefinite pause is due to Americans holding out for stronger intellectual property protections. Typically hard-headed, the Yanquis have not really given up on their pet causes. Instead, they have merely resurrected them in plutilateral arrangements being touted by the US Trade Representative.
(1) Let us begin with the much-ballyhooed expansion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Originally a grouping of trade-willing APEC member countries Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. the US is seeking to crash into their party. With the release of more leaked documents, the secretive TPP negotiations apparently involve the US barging into someone else's FTA and attempting to shape it to its own ends. Surprise, surprise. In simple terms, it aims to revive its failed Doha wish list with suck...I mean, "Asia-Pacific countries keen on concluding a high-quality FTA." Joseph Stiglitz, for one, is wary of its goals of extending medicine patents of American Big Pharma into near-eternity and circumscribing the ability of developing countries to manufacture generic versions--especially if they are needed due to health crises (i.e., "compulsory licensing"):
The IP chapter is also worrisome to others. Joseph Stiglitz, an economist, Nobel Prize winner and professor at the Columbia University School of Business, asked negotiators in an open letter sent Friday to resist proposals to weaken consumer rights in intellectual property. The letter was published by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a group lobbying for fairer distribution of information, which has taken a close interest in the TPP and was also concerned by the contents of the leaked treaty draft.Damn Yanquis. They keep yapping about freedom and transparency Obama-the-hypocrite style when, in reality, they seek to pull a fast one on a large chunk of the world's population. Considering that the TPP expansion participants are generally a coalition of American sycophants, toadies, yes-men and hangers-on, it is remarkable how little traction US negotiators have gained. Can't cow the cowed, eh? American negotiators hoped for a end-of-2013 completion; I think events have shown them to be unrealistically optimistic about concluding a deal, let alone one so lopsided in favor of US interests. Either nothing is concluded, or one is that is watered-down and riddled with opt-outs.
Negotiators should resist mandating extensions of patents terms, narrowing the grounds for granting compulsory license on patents and increasing damages for infringements of patents and copyrights, Stiglitz wrote. Moreover, they should also oppose mandating excessive enforcement measures for digital information and requiring more than 70 years of copyright protection, among other proposals, Stiglitz wrote.
(2) There is also the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU underway. However, alike TPP, it appears to be a US-led attempt to introduce its favored IP regimes first and a trade agreement second. Ho-hum, what else is new, Sammy?
TTIP negotiations last year were already going nowhere in particular rather quickly, and that was before the US was revealed to be a massive spy on European citizens and leaders. Why are we to believe that Europeans are so interested in further protecting the intellectual property rights of those who are so callously indifferent to violating European privacy rights on an unprecedented scale? Beats me, pal.
For both the TPP and TTIP, intellectual property is far from the only point of contention. Agriculture in particular is a tough nut to crack with many sensitivities in Asia and Europe. Which is lamer, then? It's hard to say since both negotiations don't seem to be heading anywhere at the moment, so call it a draw.
Message to the US: Did you simply think you could take the least popular items on your Doha wish list and get them accepted elsewhere? Think again.