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Archived updates for Monday, July 21, 2008

Europe Ties WTO Negotiations to Protection for Geographical Indications


According to William New and Kaitlin Mara writing for Intellectual Property Watch on July 21, 2008, the outcome of this week's World Trade Organization mini-ministerial (about 40 of the WTO’s 153 members) will be tied to addressing demands from the European Union, Switzerland, Brazil, India, and others on issues related to intellectual property and trade:

In an informal meeting of the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), European Union insisted that GIs and Peru insisted that CBD issues are critical to being able to accept an outcome on the other issues.

“On the European side, as on others, there are some political 'must-haves'. In agriculture, NAMA, services and GIs," Peter Mandelson, European Union trade commissioner, said in his statement. "We are prepared to offer more than others in this round, but everyone must understand that we need something in return."

Mandelson explained that the EU “will be the major net loser” in any deal on agriculture, that the region is bringing a “groundbreaking reform of agricultural support,” and that on NAMA Europe will “cut every tariff line, without flexibilities” for entry into “the most valuable market in the world.”

But Europe is only willing to do this if “others also step up to the plate.” This must, Mandelson said, “include moves on questions such as geographical indications.” He added: “They are a form of intellectual property, entitled to effective legal protection.”

The immediate goal of these "July 2008 package" meetings is to agree on “modalities” in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) — ie, the formulas and other methods to be used to cut tariffs and agricultural subsidies, and a range of related provisions — and to look at the next steps in concluding the Doha round of negotiations.
United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters on Tuesday that the United States does not plan to negotiate this week on the extension of high-level protections on product names associated with locations to products other than wines and spirits.
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