Development Agendas in a Changing World
Edited by Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz and Pedro Roffe
Chapter 7: TRIPS-Plus Policies and the Pharmaceutical Industry in Thailand
Jakkrit Kuanpoth INTRODUCTION Bilateral trade and investment agreements are increasingly used strategically by powerful countries to incorporate ‘TRIPS-Plus’ commitments that have been difficult to achieve in multilateral settings (notably at the World Trade Organization (WTO)). The developed countries, which have been dissatisfied with the multilateral forum, have resorted to bilateral agreements as a way of forum shopping to better achieve their own interests in disregard of a more balanced approach to intellectual property right (IPR) protection. The issue at stake for developing countries is the loss of key ‘policy space’ in strategic areas such as health, agriculture and the digital environment. The TRIPS-Plus obligations may also deny developing countries benefits and flexibilities within trade agreements aimed at enhancing pro-innovation activities and technology transfer. The justifications in favour of pharmaceutical patenting in developing countries are that it induces foreign direct investment (FDI), stimulates local inventive activities and encourages transfer of new technologies into the country. This chapter aims at examining whether TRIPS-Plus rules on pharmaceutical patents generate benefits to developing countries by looking at the situation in Thailand. It is appropriate to note at the outset that this chapter provides policy arguments rather than theoretical sociolegal analysis. It must also be pointed out that strict empirical considerations are not the yardstick for analysis. However, basic socio-economic, political and legal considerations provide the basis for the discussion on costs and benefits of pharmaceutical patents in Thailand. First, the chapter begins with an examination of the new trends and TRIPS-Plus commitments under bilateral...
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