WRAPUP 1-Pacific trading partners stuck on medical monopoly periods

Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:14am EDT
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By Ami Miyazaki and Krista Hughes

LAHAINA, Hawaii, July 29 (Reuters) - Pacific trading partners are deadlocked over intellectual property protections, including monopoly periods for next-generation drugs, Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Wednesday.

Amari said he saw no sign of the United States backing down on a demand to protect for 12 years data used to develop biologic drugs, which are made from living cells.

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb has said he sees no legitimate reason to extend past five years.

"There is still a huge gap over patents," Amari told reporters after Wednesday's plenary session. He said talks between ministers from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would continue on Thursday.

Many are concerned that longer monopoly periods will push up the cost of state-subsidized medicines and delay the introduction of cheaper alternatives, although pharmaceutical companies say the opposite is true.

People briefed on the TPP talks saw signs of progress on other sticky issues, such as Canada's dairy market, as farmers kept up pressure for Canada to allow in more imports.

The Canadians Agri-Food Trade Alliance says 90 percent of the country's farmers rely on exports, from canola to beef. Canada is at a disadvantage compared to Australia in exporting beef to Japan, after tariffs on Australian beef were cut under a bilateral trade deal.

"That disadvantage is new this year and will continue to grow if there is no deal," Canadian Cattlemen's Association international relations director John Masswohl said.   Continued...