Updated: 1/11/02; 12:33:01 PM.
Peter Gallagher's Radio Weblog

Friday, 1 November 2002

IP rights are created only for the benefit of the society, not for the benefit of the IP right-holder.

The benefit to the author or inventor - the temporary (in most cases) and exclusive right to exploitation - is no more than an inducement to participation; it is not a fundamental objective of the society in creating the property in the first place.

But there is no social benefit in the 'strong' form of Geographical Indication (GI) that has been created for Wine and Spirits by Article 23 of the WTO TRIPS Argreement This provision creates the right to the exclusive use of a name even where there is no possibility of consumer confusion: "... even where the true origin of the goods is indicated or the geographical indication is used in translation or accompanied by expressions such as "kind", "type", "style", "imitation" or the like." Article 23.1.

The distinguishing feature of this extended form of GI is that it offers no additional information benefit that would justify the additional protection in law. It imposes a unique restriction on the society without any compensatory benefit.

The language of food inherited by the former European colonies of the New World is being 're-colonized' by a law which asserts property rights in ordinary nouns. Many Europeans are unhappy about this, too.
12:22:40 PM    comment []

The decision on whether a quarantine restriction is warranted by the risk that an animal or plant disease or pest might be imported -- and the sort of measure that is warranted -- is guided by a concept that the WTO calls the "appropriate level of protection" (ALOP).

In Australia, ALOP is not a detailed concept. In fact, the Senate Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs, in its inquiry in May 2000 described the ALOP as "inherently vague and unsubstantiated" and "a recipe for inviting confusion and criticism."

Because of this vagueness the full costs and benefits of quarantine protection are not being taken into account in Australia. Yet there is evidence that the costs of some barriers for the economy as a whole may significantly outweigh the benefits to a particular industry.

Inquit's 'white paper' on the Appropriate Level of Protection, which examines these issues, was produced on behalf of some of Australia's largest dairy manufacturers and exporters.
12:00:46 PM    comment []

Thursday, 31 October 2002

It's likely that negotiations towards an Australia-US Free Trade Agreement will be announced within weeks.

In August I provided the Australia US Trade Agreement (AUSTA) with an evaluation of the strategic opportunities for agriculture: Managing Agriculture in the Free Trade Agreement.

The conclusions
  • Contrary to widely-held opinion, it is feasible to include free trade in 'sensitive' agricultural products such as dairy and sugar in an agreement between Australia and the USA
  • The 'threat' to Australia's quarantine rules is much less serious than many Australian producers fear
  • A well-designed FTA would complement and complete a WTO (multilateral) deal on opening up world agricultural markets
  • The econmic size of the free trade area would be comparable to the expanded European Union but the new region will have much lower external barriers. This means it is likely to act as a beacon to other regional countries. We should actively seek their interest and participation

8:29:13 AM    comment []

Tuesday, 29 October 2002

"China is eager to push forward a free trade zone with the Association of South East Asian Nations at next week's ASEAN summit, as well as discussing a similar deal with Japan and South Korea."

9:21:09 AM    comment []


In a statement issued on Sunday, the leaders of the 21-member APEC forum called "for progress across all areas in the lead-up to the 2003 WTO Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun", and encouraged negotiators to finish global trade talks by January 1, 2005.

The APEC statement also said "one of the objectives (of the WTO talks) should be the abolition of all forms of agricultural export subsidies, and unjustifiable export prohibitions and restrictions."

8:39:08 AM    comment []

Thursday, 25 July 2002

"Overall, 104 anti-dumping investigations were set up in the first half of 2002 compared with 149 a year ago, with 63 of the probes occuring in developing countries.

Previous six month periods had been marked by a higher number of probes being started, according to the Geneva-based trade body.

The United States decreased its use of anti-dumping investigations during the first six months of the year, according to the data released today."

5:48:46 AM    comment []

"As many of you know, the average world tariff in agriculture is about 62 percent. The tariffs in particular countries range much higher, up to 1000 percent. The United States level is 12 percent, European Union 31 percent, Japan about 50 percent. As Ann mentioned, last year the European Union spent about $2 billion on export subsidies, the United States spent about $10-or-$15 million. We want to try and eliminate that, and much of the world agrees with us that that would be the most trade-distorting aspect to remove.

The European Union has a cap on the trade-distorting subsidies of $60 billion. Japan has $30 billion; United States has $19 billion. So the type of positions that we take over the next weeks will be important in defining this agenda. We want to try to set the table for the negotiations in ways to maximize our interests and not just show up and see what others have served for the table. We have a lot to gain, but we won't accept efforts of others to try to define this negotiation in a way as if it were just about U.S. farm policy. What we'll be trying to do is to first focus on harmonization, in other words, bringing others down closer to our levels, and then over time trying to seek that goal we sought for many years about elimination."

9:48:13 PM    comment []

Monday, 15 July 2002

Self-interest is ok.

"Japan plans to call on other members to follow its lead in scrapping tariffs on products that include electric appliances, automobiles, ceramics, cameras and watches."

But you don't have a negotiation until you're ready to offer something that your trading partners want.
9:38:18 PM    comment []

Thursday, 11 July 2002

The US International Trade Commission has estimated the impact of protection on the US economy. You can read the numbers as a current loss or a future opportunity.
"Based on 1999 economic data, the ITC estimated removing all U.S. trade barriers would result in a nearly $29 billion gain in imports, a $15 billion gain in exports and a net employment increase of 35,000. "

Underlying the net employment increase would be big job losses, mostly in the textiles and clothing industries, as high protection industries adjusted to competition. According to the ITC a combination of tariffs and quota import restrictions increase the average U.S. price of textile and apparel products by 34.4 percent.
1:45:32 PM    comment []

Tuesday, 9 July 2002

"How can the cartel of good intentions be reformed so that foreign aid might actually reach and benefit the world's poor? Clearly, a good dose of humility is in order, considering all the bright ideas that have failed in the past. Moreover, those of us in the aid industry should not be so arrogant to think we are the main determinants of whether low-income countries develop -- poor nations must accomplish that mainly on their own."

William Easterly

10:28:04 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2002 Peter Gallagher.
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