SC Webinar, 28 May 2021

Emerging Trends in FTAs and Public Health: Investment Agreements and Intellectual Property

Friday, 28 May 2021 – 16:00-17:30 (CET)

The inclusion of TRIPS-Plus provisions in developing country IP laws, as a result of negotiations of free trade agreements (FTAs) continues to be of concern. In addition, there are various emerging areas that require attention from developing countries, where accumulated knowledge and institutional learning are more limited. These include investment agreements that include ‘intellectual property’ as a category of investment – with subsequent ISDS mechanisms, as well as competition and investment chapters or agreements that may restrict the policy space, such as the China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement. There are several important developments to consider for the upcoming years. New negotiations in the period of Covid-19 crisis, when countries are in dire financial situations, may lead to even more unbalanced negotiations. The UK is pursuing new agreements after Brexit with developing countries, while the USA has signaled renewed attention to multilateralism and at the same time is continuing to make use of Section 301 of its trade law to advance reforms in third countries. The AfCFTA negotiations of the intellectual property chapter are set to start this year. Moreover, the RCEP Agreement is to be implemented via national law amendments and attention must be given in particular to the process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the technical assistance offered.

In this context, the South Centre is holding a series of webinars on emerging trends related to free trade agreements (FTAs) and investment agreements that impact public health. In this first session, we will discuss the topic of investment agreements and intellectual property, including varied angles to the issue, such as perspectives for post Covid-19 agreements, the legal construction of IP as a category of investment, the challenges of ISDS and policy reform options, and the analysis of a concrete case.

Recording here.



Cynthia Ho, Loyola University Chicago

Federico Suárez, Universidad Externado de Colombia

Pratyush Nath Upreti, University of Helsinki, Finland

Alebe Linhares Mesquita and Vivian Daniele Rocha Gabriel, University of São Paulo

Nicolás M. Perrone, University Andrés Bello, Chile


Dr. Viviana Muñoz-Tellez (South Centre)


The following questions/issues will be addressed in the webinar:

• How do investment agreements relate to intellectual property and what are their impacts on public health, particularly access to essential medical products?

• How to transpose your concerns into policy recommendations/strategies for developing countries’ negotiators and policymakers?

• Does the Covid-19 pandemic offer new opportunities and challenges for the negotiation dynamics and outcomes?


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