Intellectual Property Harmonisation under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Issues and Challenges
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was negotiated by 12 Pacific-rim countries, namely: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important issues in the TPP negotiations. The Agreement will introduce higher standards of IP protection than required in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) TRIPS (so called TRIPS-Plus provisions). The IP chapter under the TPP would undermine countries' substantive ability to deal with public health problems. First, the proposed rules would have negative implications for access to medicines by limiting flexibilities that the countries currently have under the WTO/TRIPS Agreement, e.g. restricting the right of governments to allow the production, marketing, and import of generic medicines. In addition, the treaty has introduced language that will undermine the ability of the participating countries to make use of compulsory licensing as a means to obtain differentially priced generic products and to restrict the measures it can take to pursue affordable drugs. In making decisions with respect to whether or not a country should join the TPP, its policymakers will have to weigh, based on empirical evidence, the economic benefits of such a treaty against the importance of protecting health and social interests of their population.