Press release |

MSF statement on RCEP Ministerial meeting in Laos

Photograph by Siddharth Singh
Civil society demonstration against IP provisions in RCEP that can block access to affordable medicines. Outside Ministry of Commerce, Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi

New Delhi, 4 August 2016 — As the trade ministers of the 16 countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meet in Laos on 5 August to resolve differences that are holding back negotiations, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling for the removal of damaging intellectual property provisions – known as TRIPS-plus provisions – that would lock in high drug prices and endanger the health of millions of people across the globe.  These provisions include patent term extensions, data exclusivity, and excessive intellectual property enforcement.

RCEP is a regional trade agreement being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. RCEP countries are home to nearly half of the world’s population, including some of the most marginalised communities living in the three least-developed countries taking part in the trade negotiations. To date, 13 rounds of negotiations have taken place, with the next round of negotiations to be held in Vietnam between 15-19 August.  

Quotes from MSF and DNP+:

Statement from Leena Menghaney, Head - South Asia, MSF Access Campaign:

“The leaked text of the draft intellectual property chapter reveals that Japan and South Korea are pushing for the adoption of harmful intellectual property provisions which will extend pharmaceutical corporation monopoly protection beyond what is required by agreements under the World Trade Organization. These proposed provisions are similar to those proposed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which is considered the worst trade deal ever for access to medicines.

“In the past, countries like India have stood firm against the inclusion of any TRIPS-plus provisions, which are intellectual property rules that go beyond what the WTO requires, during trade agreement negotiations. Inclusion of patent term extensions and data exclusivity have been rejected by Indian negotiators in the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and in the on-going negotiations for an EU-India Free Trade Agreement, and we urge India to reject these harmful provisions in RCEP as well.”

Statement from Paul Lhungdim, President, Delhi Network of Positive People:

“India is known for its wide-scale production and supply of life-saving affordable generic medicines needed to treat diseases, and the Government of India has a special responsibility to preserve this lifeline on which millions of people across the world depend.

“To ensure the continuous supply of generic medicines that we and other treatment providers, governments, and people worldwide rely upon, DNP+ urges Indian negotiators to continue to push back on inclusion of any provisions in the RCEP trade deal that will undermine access to medicines.”