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18 May 2015 | |

Costa Rican environmental activists question the Pacific Alliance

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Costa Rican issues related to intellectual property rights, patents on seeds, "limitations to the ability of peasants to grow their own seeds", are elements of concern for us in the framework of the Pacific Alliance negotiations, said activist Silvia Rodriguez, of the National Biodiversity Network of Costa Rica.

According to its website, the Pacific Alliance is a regional integration initiative created in April 2011 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, which aims to build an "area of deep economic integration and to move gradually toward the free circulation of goods, services, capital and persons". Among other goals, the Alliance adds to "promote the larger growth, development and competitiveness of the Parties´ economies, aiming at achieving greater welfare, overcoming socio-economic inequality and achieving greater social inclusion of their inhabitants".

Costa Rica is one of the countries that has shown interest in being part of this bloc. However, several social actors of the country, such as La Via Campesina and environmental groups like COECOCEIBA-Friends of the Earth Costa Rica, have expressed their rejection to this possibility.

They are also worried about the "most favored nation" principle, said Rodriguez in an interview with our colleague Oriana Ortiz, member of COECOCEIBA, in the framework of a mobilization held on May 4 in San Jose, Costa Rican capital city, where several social sectors expressed their concern over the possibility of Costa Rica signing the Pacific Alliance agreement.

The most favored nation principle establishes that the countries signing the trade agreement would be automatically benefitted with the best treatment granted or that can be granted in the future to any other country in another pact.
Rodriguez believes that agriculture and the issue of patents over seeds are key issues that cannot be accepted. She highlighted that there aren´t only economic risks, but political risks and warned about the dangers that the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) also implies.

This agreement aims to create a platform for a potential economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the Foreign Trade Information System website of the Organization of American States (OAS), the countries that are participating in the TPP negotiations propose to design an inclusive and high-quality agreement that sets the foundations for economic growth, development and generation of job sources in the member countries. The aim is also to turn this into the basis for a future Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement.

The TPP was signed in 2005 and came into force the following year. It involved Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore from the beginning. In February, 2012, Costa Rica announced that it would consider joining the agreement.

Imagen: coecoceiba.org

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