Later this month, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will launch their sixth round of negotiations for the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Recent news coverage has focused on whether the Trump administration will withdraw from the agreement or not. As civil society continues to be excluded from this process, there is still little information about actual intellectual property proposals, but the position of Public Knowledge remains unchanged: trade agreements must promote a balanced copyright system that serves the public interest.
A key question in advance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference that took place last week in Buenos Aires was whether its full membership would agree to launch new negotiations seeking to create multilateral norms for e-commerce. Since 1998 the WTO has had a work program examining e-commerce issues, but in the past months several members – including Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the European Union, Mexico, and others – circulated textual proposals calling for new negotiations or a working group that could end in new negotiations. Others members – among them the African Group and India – preferred to continue under the current work program instead of launching new negotiations.
This week Public Knowledge’s Director of Global Policy, Gus Rossi, and Development Manager, Katie Watson, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for the 12th Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The IGF brings together people from a variety of stakeholder groups, including public interest organizations, government agencies, industry representatives, academics, and others in order to discuss their work and the challenges they each face in creating good internet governance policies. This annual event serves as an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the important work other groups are carrying out, and to share best practices.
After years of failed negotiations, the European Union now appears close to reaching a trade agreement with the South American political and economic bloc, Mercosur. This was confirmed by the European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström during a press conference last month. The announcement came a day after the European Union Vice-President, Jyrki Katainen, met in Buenos Aires with the Argentinian President, Mauricio Macri, to work on unspecified “difficult issues” still pending.