Thursday, March 5, 2009

Abhisit to U.S: Back off, or else...

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told a visiting U.S business declaration that if the U.S takes action on Thailand for what the U.S believes is Thailand's failure to protect intellectual property, there will be consequences.

He stated that the government pays close attention to WTO regulations and is in compliance.  The relevant section in WTO regulations deals with Compulsory Licences (CL).  CL allows for developing countries to bypass patents on prescription medication in order to purchase them from a generic manufacturer at a much lower price.  

As I mentioned earlier, Thailand has previously issued CLs for several HIV medications, and a cancer medication that it deems to costly to purchase at the regular price.  Thailand has also sought to negotiate lower prices from the intellectual property holding companies themselves.  According to Dr. Monkhol Na Songkla, in the interview I posted below, these companies were not even willing to negotiate until Thailand began issuing CLs.  

According to this article in the Bangkok Post, Prime Minister Abhisit stated that 
"I have sent a clear signal," Mr Abhisit said. "If the US decides that the situation has worsened, I think it will produce a negative impact."There will be pressure from our society to expand CL if they treat us that way."

From some research conducted by the World Bank, it's possible to get an idea of how much Thailand will be spending on the HIV medications within the next 25 years.  The numbers are very high, and for Thailand's anti-retroviral therapy for people living with HIV/AIDS to be sustainable, they need to find cheaper sources of medication.  

U.S diplomatic style is to push and push until you get what you want.  Unfortunately for  the U.S, they do not have the record of subtle coercion that made both Rome and Britain great.  Partly because the U.S often comes across as ignorant of local issues and unable to really act outside of a narrowly defined "war on terror".  

The U.S is risking it's position in South East Asia by not engaging with the most important local issues, and also by using strong tactics on a matter that could be seen as one with a humanitarian leaning.  

My solution for the U.S?  Enroll diplomats in a Chinese university or offer the Chinese government a contract to train them.  China's influence and soft power is record enough.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yet another essay that contain common sense. There is no doubt that the USA will need to adjust methods due to the rise of China as the century unfolds.