Free Trade Agreement talks may take longer than expected


The Free Trade Agreement negotiations between Ecuador and the United States look likely to be far more protracted than the United States' recent discussions with Chile and Costa Rica. Ecuador and the United States have different perspectives on what IP rights should be protected and who should benefit from that protection.

The only area likely to cause dispute in relation to trademarks is the Madrid Protocol (the United States may request that Ecuador accede to the protocol). However, other related areas, including cultural property, pharmaceuticals, biodiversity and new plant varieties, seem far from settled.

Ecuador has more than 2000 domesticated varieties of beans, 1000 varieties of corn, 800 varieties of potatoes and 288 varieties of hot peppers. The biodiversity in Ecuador is greater than almost any other country in the world. It also has a multitude of indigenous societies, each with its own cultural properties and scientific knowledge protected by constitutional provisions and various treaties.

At a conference in Quito last month, representatives of the World Conservation Union and the Andean Community highlighted that it will be very difficult to come to an agreement with the United States in relation to the above-mentioned rights, while also complying with constitutional provisions, Andean Community law and international treaties.

For a discussion of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Chile, see Congress ratifies trade agreement promoting trademark rights and Bilateral trade agreement will protect trademark rights.

Bruce Horowitz, Paz & Horowitz, Quito

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