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ECUADOR
Correa backpedals from EU trade agreement
6/3/2009
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President says agreement threatens social advances.

"The European Union can put whatever pretty name it wants to, but its still orienting us toward a free trade agreement and that, we´re not going to accept," said President Rafael Correa during his weekly radio address on May 23.

In November, talks that began in June 2007 for the Andean Community —composed of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru — and the European Union to negotiate an association agreement with the regional South American bloc as a whole collapsed when Colombia and Peru said they would negotiate bilaterally with the European Union. Ecuador in January said it, too, was open to the new kind of agreement and agreed to talks.

But Ecuador´s president said the association agreement with Europe, which is intended to include cooperation and political dialogue frameworks, in addition to knocking down trade barriers, is now focusing only on the latter point.

Colombia and Peru, both signatories of free trade agreements with the United States, are open to the new agreement with the European Union, which Ecuador´s president says will impact the country´s intellectual property. The European Union has proposed extending medicine patents from 20 to 25 years, with exclusivity agreements as well as increasing the protection of test data from five to 10 years.

According to Health Action International, a global organization that promotes universal access to health care and medicines, says that this could cause the prices of name-brand medicines to cost between four and 35 times a generic version.

"We are very worried about the path, the direction that the EU´s negotiations and intentions are taking," said Correa. "It´s no longer an association agreement, but basically, a free trade agreement and that we´re not going to accept. Ecuador will defend its social achievements."

Ecuador´s new constitution calls for universal education and health care.
—Latinamerica Press.


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