International Trade

IP Protection for Plants in Bilateral Free Trade Agreements: the Andean Community, the United States and the European Union

by Carlos H. Garcia


Intellectual property rights for plants is at the center of a heated debate; the possibility that private entities may appropriate the genetic resources of biodiversity-rich countries has raised concerns over the fair benefit sharing of biological resources and the protection of the traditional knowledge of local communities. The recent conclusion of bilateral free trade agreements seeking to harmonize the intellectual property regimes of developed and developing biodiversity rich countries, has further fueled this controversy. The text will explore this debate by analyzing the free trade agreements signed between the European Union, the United States and members of the Andean Community, exploring also the resulting legal effects on the intellectual property regimes of the signatories.

1. The Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Peru and the European Union

Talks between the Andean Community and the EU started in June 2007 resulting from a Council of the European Union decision authorizing negotiations to start in April of the same year. 1 Nevertheless, discrepancies between the members of the Andean Community on several trade issues led to the suspension of talks in June of 2008.

In light of the above, the Commission recommended to the Council on December 17, 2008 to modify the previous authorization in order to pursue further negotiations with the Andean countries still willing to reach an agreement. Subsequently, in January 2009, the Council authorized the Commission to negotiate with Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, which reiterated their willingness to negotiate in January 2009.

New negotiations for a multiparty trade agreement were initiated in January 2009 between the EU and Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. Ecuador suspended its involvement after four rounds. Therefore, negotiations were resumed only with the participation of Colombia and Peru, finalizing in May 2010, followed by the initialization of the text of the trade agreement on March 2011. [footnotes omitted]

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 Carlos H. Garcia is a lawyer specializing in international law and intellectual property law. He has practiced law both, in the private and public sector in connection with international environmental law, intellectual property law, international transactions and international arbitration. Additionally, as a member of the Public Interest Law group of the Universidad de los Andes he successfully litigated in several constitutional matters in connection with civil rights.

Mr. Garcia obtained his degree in law from the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia where he was awarded the outstanding dissertation award and he received his master's degree in International and European Business Law from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

international law