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Cablegate: Nigeria: Trips and Access to Medicines

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002694

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EB/TPP/MTA/IPC:DBEAN, USTR FOR CBURCKY


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ECON ETRD KSEP USTR
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: TRIPS AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES


REF: STATE 175220


1. EconOff delivered reftel demarche October 16 to Mr. Y.T.
Agah, head of Multilateral Affairs at the Federal Ministry of
Commerce. EconOff emphasized the need for a balanced
approach that protects intellectual property rights for
pharmaceutical patent holders while permitting developing
countries to address public health crises. Agah agreed,
adding that Nigeria had no intention of violating the
intellectual property rights of patent holders.


2. EconOff raised concern over the inclusion of language,
tabled by developing countries, that declares "nothing in the
TRIPS Agreement shall prevent members from taking measures to
protect public health." EconOff added that this language was
open to interpretation that could allow member-states to
violate TRIPS. Agah replied that perhaps this language could
be negotiated, although it was important that interpretations
of TRIPS not prevent states from protecting its citizens in
the case of health crises.


3. Regarding the provision allowing for compulsory licensing
in a member-state that does not have domestic pharmaceutical
manufacturing capacity, Agah said the GON wanted to retain
flexibility in case interpretations of Article 31 would
prevent this from occurring. Agah said it was important that
developing countries table these issues now, even if they
were not relevant until January 1, 2005.


4. Comment. The Multilateral Office of the Ministry of
Commerce has only eight officers responsible for all WTO
issues. These officers share two computers that work only
sporadically, due to power outages and failures. Moreover,
Agah admitted, his officers lack the capacity to analyze and
interpret WTO issues, such as TRIPS. Therefore, the Commerce
Ministry often relies on other developing countries' views to
inform its position. Capacity-building and training are
critically needed for Nigeria to take the initiative on, and
provide leadership for, multilateral trade issues in Africa.
Jeter

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