The International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development has published a new issue paper, The Influence of Preferential Trade Agreements on the Implementation of Intellectual Property Rights in Developing Countries, by Ermias Tekeste Biadgleng and Jean-Christophe Maur.
Biadgleng and Maur find that after countries ratify trade agreements with the US and the EU, they often face additional pressure to implement very strong interpretations of their obligations (for instance, through mechanisms such as the USTR Special 301 review which requires trade officials to report progress of implementation to Congress).
After legislation is passed, countries are still pushed to strengthen IP, including through the creation of significant new systems and organization:
“Implementation does not stop with transposition into the domestic legal system. Rather, it continues with significant changes in enforcement and, potentially, reviews and interactions with the trade partner. This suggests therefore that PTAs become “live” agreements that must be actively managed over time.”
The authors warn that developing countries often do not take advantage of flexibilities available to them under the terms of the agreement. Further research is needed to develop recommendations for implementing intellectual property obligations in trade agreements, and to estimate the costs that implementation will have for the countries implementing them.