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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thailand - IP and trade deals

Thailand is in the middle of several contentious international negotiations involving IP.

First the Thai-EU free trade agreement kicks off soon with bilateral talks on 17 trade issues including several IPR areas. There has been criticism of possible impacts on farming, biodiversity and access to medicines due to patent protection. The Thai Commerce Ministry is keen on the FTA as an opportunity for Thailand to be a hub for certain sectors in the Asean region such as automotive, electronics and services. But pressure groups are gathering for intensive lobbying - see here for one example.

Then there isthe Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership  which Thailand is involved in. And the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP, a US driven free trade initiative which also drives higher levels of IPR protection. Prime Minister Yingluck expressed interest to president Obama recently, sparking news articles worrying about higher levels of patent protection, as well as political concerns because the TPP does not include China.

Meanwhile 2015 is approaching the data set for ASEAN economic integration, a component of which includes IP integration (for example all ASEAN states must join Madrid).

In reality for IPRs, so many competing frameworks don't matter since the IP issues are broadly all the same TRIPs+ levels of protection in each But the next years will see all the IPR backlash arguments play out in Thailand, from access to medicine, biopiracy, to over-enforcement.

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