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Last Updated:[22-10-2009 08:05:13 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

EU Releases Funds to ASEAN in a Bid to Fight Piracy

tradenews The European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the EU has provided $6.7mn to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to combat the threat of intellectual property (IP) violations in the region. The EU sees the lack of effective mechanism to counter intellectual piracy among 10 member ASEAN states as a major impediment to weld a stronger economic relation in the form of an FTA with the region.

The EC has spent $7.5mn on two previous projects to strengthen the intellectual property rights in the ASEAN - a region notorious for rampant copying of DVDs, CDs, software and brand-name goods from Gucci bags to Rolex watches. The third phase of the project, called EC-ASEAN Intellectual Rights Project, or ECAP III, will focus on five key aspects of development such as - capacity building activities, training of enforcement agencies, support in drafting the Geographical Indication Laws, promotion of IP education and awareness building in the region.

The David Lipman, the EU Ambassador and head of the EC delegation to Thailand opined the union did not have any specific figures on IP violations in each ASEAN member state, or for the region as a whole, the fact remained that piracy was rife and evident. He emphasized the adoption of internationally accepted standards was key for the ASEAN to improve its competitiveness and attractiveness as a hub for investments, and research and development.

The EU-ASEAN FTA negotiations launched in May, 2007 with full implementation of an FTA expected by 2015 is put on hold after serious differences emerged among both sides on various issues. The stalemate on the FTA talks has forced the EU to go in for separate trade agreements between the union and the individual ASEAN members as the region is of strategic importance.

The EU fears the failure in talks between both sides would give leeway to other global competitors including India, China, Japan, the US, South Korea and Australia to exploit the void, as a result, it is determined to go ahead with the separate ASEAN member deals. Though the EU does not have any plans to scrap the broad-based trade deal with the ASEAN, it seems that the individual bilateral deals is likely to give extra leverage to the union in excluding those countries with differences and unacceptable standards. And it is in this regard, the EU is showing keen interest in the upkeep of ASEAN states with a funding for the IP protection projects.

By Jose Roy

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