Economic Partnership Agreements and Intellectual Property Rights Protection: Challenges for the Southern African Development Community Region

"The signing of the comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by the European Community (EC) and Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries covering a wide range of issues, including intellectual property (IP) provisions, has the potential to influence negotiations for other EPA groups that have only signed a series of ‘goods-only’ interim EPAs. Even though IP is not included as one of the areas for further negotiations under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) interim EPA, there is possibility that the EC may make proposals for IP negotiations, since it is known to have a history of including IP provisions in its bilateral agreements. Generally, its approach has been to have its partners sign up to or accede to agreements containing the highest standards of IP as evidenced in the CARIFORUM EPA. This paper explores the implications for SADC EPA states of inclusion of IP provisions in the EPA in light of the probability that the EC may propose standards similar to those provisions in the innovation and IP chapter of the CARIFORUM EPA. It focuses on those provisions of the CARIFORUM EPA that may pose challenges to the SADC EPA countries and makes recommendations in the approach for possible IP negotiations for the SADC EPA countries."