CAFTA in peril

The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is today in problems as the Costa Rican elections are on a virtual tie. With 88% of the votes counted, the difference between pro-CAFTA candidate Oscar Arias and anti-CAFTA candidate Otton Solís is only 3250 votes, with Arias narrowly on the lead. It is thought that the result will be announced in two weeks, but analysts think that Arias is likely to win as the remaining districts are mostly in the peripheral provinces (Limón, Puntarenas and Guanacaste), where Arias has a clear advantage. Arias is also going to have a majority in the Legislative, but not a total majority.

CAFTA is of interest because it is considered a TRIPS-plus agreement, one of the bilateral trade treaties negotiated by the US that enhance the protection of TRIPS in the contracting parties. This protection includes more restrictive anti-circumvention procedures, limitation of patent exceptions, erosion of compulsory licences, and generally more rather than less IP.

Although I do not like CAFTA’s TRIPS-plus provisions, the agreement is needed in order to maintain the important American trade market open. It is unfortunate that IP is included in these treaties.

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