Letter |

Civil society letter to countries negotiating Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

To China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar, Lao, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, Japan, South Korea 

Intellectual Property and Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
Protect Transition Period for LDCs

As civil society organisations concerned with access to medicines, to educational resources, to environmentally sound technologies (ESTs), and to other public goods and cultural creations and further concerned with farmers’ rights, food security and industrial development, we call on countries negotiating the RCEP agreement and to protect the flexibilities available under the WTO TRIPS agreement for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). 

In terms of impact, RCEP will cover nearly 50% of the world’s population - including the most vulnerable, marginalised and impoverished - such as people living in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). 

LDCs are given an extended transition period vis-a-vis intellectual property (IP) under the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) during which period LDCs are under no obligation to implement the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. This is in recognition of their special requirements, their economic, financial and administrative constraints, and the need for flexibility so that they can create a viable technological base and protect their capacity to make or procure low cost generic medicines. 

We would like to draw your attention to the current negotiating text of the draft IP chapter, which proposes the premature adoption of intellectual property obligations by LDCs.  (Please see Annex 1 for detailed analysis). 

We request IP negotiators designated by your government in RCEP to recognise specific concerns and needs of LDCs when it comes to IP and their need to retain policy space in defining their domestic IP system.

Any attempt to weaken in any way LDCs’ right to transition periods or the utilization of the flexibilities vis-a-vis intellectual property will be disastrous for LDCs Members and their citizens. It would also damage the credibility of ASEAN and it trading partners, revealing their total disregard for the socio-economic constraints and needs of the poorest and most vulnerable segment of the international community.

Please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Sangeeta Shashikant (sangeeta@twnetwork.org) and/or Ms. Leena Menghaney (leena.menghaney@msf.org) for any additional information. 

Signatories
Global Networks & Organizations

LDC Watch
A global alliance of national, regional and international civil society organizations (CSOs), networks, and movements based in the LDCs.
Third World Network
TWN is an independent non-profit international network of organizations and individuals working with the objective to promote the interests and perspectives of the South on economic, social and environmental issues.
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
MSF’s Campaign dedicated to lower the prices of existing drugsand to overcome other barriers that prevent patients getting the treatment they need.
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition - South Asia
A global movement of people living with HIV, treatment activists and their supporters dedicated to treatment access for all in need
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
ITUC represents 174 million workers in 156 countries and territories and has 315 national affiliates
Electronic Frontier Foundation
An international non-profit digital rights group 

Inter-regional and Regional Networks

Asia Pacific Network (APN+)
Regional representative body PLHIV networks across the Asia Pacific region
Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD)
Regional network in Asia that ensures the voices of people who use drugs are represented in regional forums and policies relating to harm reduction, HIV prevention and drug dependence treatment.
The South East Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
Organisation that promotes and implements community- based conservation, development and sustainable use of plant genetic resources
TREAT Asia/amfAR - The Foundation for AIDS Research
TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training in Asia) is a network of clinics, hospitals, and research institutions working with civil society to ensure the safe and effective delivery of HIV/AIDS treatment throughout Asia and the Pacific.

National Organizations and Networks

FTA Watch, Thailand
Indonesian AIDS Coalition, Indonesia
Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+), Malaysia
All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), India
Initiative for Health & Equity in Society, India
Thai Treatment Action Group (TTAG), Thailand
S Srinivasan, LOCOST, India
Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+), Thailand
AIDS Access Foundation, Thailand
Education International, Belgium
Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology, India
UNION C, Nepal
Lawyers Collective, India
ShaliniBhutani, Legal Researcher & Policy Analyst, India
AIDS Care China, China
Indian Drug User’s Forum (IDUF), India
Public Health Association of Australia, Australia
Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), India
Vietnam network of people living with HIV (VNP+), Vietnam
National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nepal (NAP+N), Nepal
Italian Labour Union (UIL), Italy
Positive Women Network  (PWN+), Sri Lanka
Myanmar Positive Group (MPG), Myanmar
Lanka Plus Organization, Sri Lanka
Lhak-Sam (Bhutan Positive Network), Bhutan
Association of people living with HIV in Pakistan, Pakistan
Cambodian Network of People Living with HIV(CPN+), Cambodia
Professor Brook Baker, Health GAP, USA


Organisation of U.S.-based AIDS and human rights activists, people living with HIV/AIDS, public health experts and fair trade advocates dedicated to eliminating barriers to global access to affordable life-sustaining medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS