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BRAZIL-U.S. NEGOTIATIONS ON PHARMACEUTICAL PATENTS WILL BE HELD, PMA

Executive Summary

BRAZIL-U.S. NEGOTIATIONS ON PHARMACEUTICAL PATENTS WILL BE HELD, PMA said May 8. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association said at a press conference that it was "assured that the Brazilian government has expressed a willingness to consult with the U.S. government on this issue." PMA said that in light of the assurances from the Brazilians, the association will conditionally refrain from filing a petition for the U.S. government to place Section 301 trade sanctions against Brazil. However, PMA asserted that it would file the document one week later unless the two governments "reach a concrete agreement . . . on the date and place" for the negotiations to begin. PMA also indicated that the negotiations could be scheduled to begin within a month. PMA had scheduled a press briefing to announce its filing of a petition with the U.S. Trade Representative to request a 301 action against Brazil. However, early on the morning of May 8, PMA said it received telephone calls from the State Department and Brazil's ambassador in Washington asking the association not to file the petition. Brazil's patent laws have not recognized product or process patents on pharmaceuticals since 1971. PMA has been lobbying the U.S. government to attempt to persuade Brazil to change its policy since 1984, when amendments to U.S. trade laws specified that lack of patent protection by foreign governments constituted an unfair trade barrier that warrants retaliation by the president of the U.S. PMA declared: "There is no question in our mind that the total lack of patent protection in Brazil for pharmaceutical inventions would be held to be an unreasonable trade barrier, and is thus within the purview of U.S. trade laws." At a hearing on unfair trade practices before the House Commerce/Oversight Subcommittee, Deputy Trade Representative Michael Smith testified that the office of the U.S. Trade Representative was "sympathetic" to PMA's case against Brazil, although a decision to initiate a 301 action had not been made ("The Pink Sheet" March 16, T&G-4). Retaliation under Section 301 of the Trade Act can include imposition of higher tariffs on imports from a foreign country and discontinuation of benefits under the General System of Preferences.
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