Regional Dialogue on the Economic Partnership Agreements, Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development for the ECOWAS Countries

Dialogue organised by ICTSD in partnership with ENDA and QUNO
Saly (Dakar), Senegal, 30-31 May 2007

Description | Agenda | Participants | Documentation


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The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), in collaboration with Environmental Development Action in the Third World / Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde (ENDA), the Quakers United Nations Office (QUNO) and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), have organised a Regional Dialogue on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Dialogue will be held in Saly, Senegal on the 30rd and 31th of May, 2007. Participants will include members of the ECOWAS as well as Mauritania.

Free Trade Agreements are often one component of a larger political effort to deepen economic and political relations between countries. Recently, the European Union (EU) has become increasingly active in engaging in bilateral and regional trade agreements with developing country partners. These agreements have placed different emphases in areas including trade in goods, investment, competition and intellectual property (IP). The European Commission is currently negotiating EPAs with six groups of ACP countries. These six regions are organized in the following manner: (i) the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS); (ii) Central Africa (Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l'Afrique Centrale or CEMAC); (iii) Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); (iv) The Southern African Development Community (SADC); (v) the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM); ;and (vi) the Pacific Group. All the EPA negotiations are linked to a de facto deadline of the 31 December 2007 when the waiver of the Cotonou Agreement ends.

One aspect of the EPAs that has generated deep concerns among various stakeholders is the potential impact that TRIPS-plus provisions could have over the use of flexibilities and exceptions that have been designed to safeguard certain public interest goals and advance development objectives. In this regard EPAs raise many negotiation and implementation challenges regarding policy coherence and the maintenance of flexibilities. The overall objective of the Dialogue on May 30- 31, 2007 is: 1) To inform the ECOWAS on the ongoing EPA negotiations and to provide a platform for discussion; 2) To increase understanding of the impact of potential IP commitments in a future EPA between the EU and ECOWAS; 3) To assist ECOWAS negotiators for the EPA negotiation process in identifying offensive and defensive IP issues and to preserve their interests in the negotiation process; 4) To explore linkages and identify options between sustainable development policies and intellectual property in four specific issue-areas including: a) copyrights and designs; b) geographical indications and rural development; c) genetic resources and traditional knowledge and; d) IP enforcement. More...

Report (including ENDA letter of recommendations on EPA Priority Areas in Intellectual Property sent to ECOWAS Secretariat)

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