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Cablegate: Ustr and Comex Do a Slow Slog

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0508/01 1651847
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131847Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9841
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000508

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA, WHA/CEN, WHA/EPSC AND EEB; PLEASE PASS TO
USTR:AMALITO/DOLIVER; PLEASE PASS TO USPTO:
CBERIDUT/NGRAHAM/JHOUSEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR PGOV PREL CS

SUBJECT: USTR AND COMEX DO A SLOW SLOG

Reftel San Jose 410

1. SUMMARY. On short notice, the CAFTA implementation team at Costa
Rica's Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX) requested to host a
USTR/USPTO team for meetings on intellectual property (IP) issues
from May 12-14. The work targeted the opportunity to update an IP
bill which the constitutional court (Sala IV) returned on
unconstitutional grounds on April 4. After two and a half days of
highly technical IP talks, USTR and COMEX made incremental progress
but substantive issues remain in the areas of enforcement,
copyright, patents, and biodiversity. USTR clearly articulated the
need to make more progress and finish the remaining work by early
July. COMEX agreed to provide to USTR proposals on the remaining IP
issues prior to the next scheduled meeting in early June in
Washington. Though COMEX is engaged, its commitment to "close the
deal" is less than obvious. Although it claims to want to finish
the work, it expresses reluctance in advocating for CAFTA-compliant
language for the necessary legislation to the deputies in the
national assembly. End Summary.

-----------------------
MEETING ON SHORT NOTICE
-----------------------

2. A USTR/USPTO team comprised of Andrea Malito and Tanuja Garde of
USTR and Caridad Berdut, Neil Graham, and Jim Housel of USPTO met
with a COMEX technical team led by Fernando Ocampo, Gabriela Castro,
and Susana Vasquez of COMEX on May 12-14. Randall Salazar of the
Public Registry and Liliana Rivera of the Ministry of Justice also
joined the COMEX team (both are special aides to Vice President
Chinchilla). Discussions solely focused on IP issues, specifically
enforcement, copyright, industrial property, and biodiversity. Upon
the strong recommendation of Costa Rica's Ambassador to the U.S.,
Tomas Duenas, USTR and COMEX scheduled the meetings on short notice
due to COMEX's need to revise an IP bill that the Sala IV returned
to the national assembly for recommended changes on April 4. COMEX
plans to address the recommended changes by the Sala IV by
consulting with USTR and then with national assembly deputies before
re-submitting the bill into the legislature.

-----------------------
MAKING GOOD ON AN OFFER
-----------------------

3. The discussions were necessarily technical and tedious as the
USTR and COMEX discussed legal reasoning, positions, and differences
on many of the articles of the IP bill. The meetings further
demonstrated USTR's commitment to concluding the technical
discussions between COMEX and USTR as the IP mission followed AUSTR
Everett Eissenstat's April Costa Rican visit and offer to send a
technical mission to Costa Rica (reftel). Also, the USTR team
assiduously worked at creative methods to arrive at CAFTA-compliant
solutions to bridge difficult differences.

-----------------
COMEX'S RESPONSE?
-----------------

4. COMEX accepted many of USTR's suggestions but there were
substantive differences in enforcement, copyright, industrial
property (patents), and data protection. Though COMEX presented a
good face for the meeting, its rationale for not bending or
accepting USTR positions on several of the substantive issues was
directly related to COMEX's predicted resistance by national
assembly deputies. However, during the span of the meetings, COMEX
did report on a position change by key supporting deputies on one
aspect of IP enforcement. Of concern, though, was COMEX
intransigence, at times, against presenting and advocating for
changes with the deputies. Though COMEX states its desire to
implement CAFTA, its reluctance to advocate to the deputies on
difficult issues may complicate the schedule over the coming months.


-----------------------
ARE THERE OTHER ISSUES?
-----------------------

5. At the conclusion of the meeting, USTR and COMEX agreed to meet
during the first week of June in Washington as a follow-up meeting
on the remaining IP issues and other outstanding issues such as
insurance, telecommunications spectrum allocation, and regulations.
Before the meeting, COMEX will send to USTR proposals on the
substantive IP differences.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. The meeting produced necessary but incremental change. It was
not a "close out" session on IP issues (as COMEX had indicated it
would be) and emphasized the bald fact that obstacles still remain.
Every session now is critical to a timely completion of Costa Rican
CAFTA implementation. During his April visit, AUSTR Eissenstat
marked early July as the realistic working deadline when accounting
for the USTR certification process, translation, and Sala IV review
of the last bill (with a possible return of the bill to the national
assembly). The USTR team repeated the same theme. Also whenever
COMEX averred to a political discussion, for instance, alluding to
officials at COMEX and USTR "brokering" an arrangement or the AUSTR
returning to Costa Rica to meet with deputies, USTR firmly reminded
COMEX of USTR's congressional mandate to fulfill its obligations of
certification. For Costa Rica to complete the necessary work by
early July, COMEX, Casa Presidencial, and the national assembly must
be the parties that "broker" a deal in order to enter CAFTA into
force.

7. USTR Director Malito has cleared this cable.

CIANCHETTE

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