February 8, 2011 - Updated on January 25, 2016

WikiLeaks reveals talks background

Cables: 06TOKYO3567 06TOKYO4025 06TOKYO5805 07MEXICO0229 07ROME290 07LISBON2288 08ROME1337 09STOCKHOLM736 Details of the complicated secret negotiations over the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) have emerged from the diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks and posted on the Internet. The United States, which put forward the proposals, suggested in June 2006 to foreign ministers and the Japanese trade minister an agreement on intellectual property rights (IPR) which “would aim to set a ‘gold standard’ for IPR enforcement among a small number of like-minded countries, and which other countries might aspire to join.” The US commerce department negotiator, Stanford McCay, said in a 2006 cable that the accord needed to be “a freestanding agreement, not related to any international grouping such as the G-8 or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which might make it more difficult to construct a high-standards agreement.” The “small number of like-minded countries” should, in the US view, include in particular Australia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Morocco, Jordan, the European countries, Mexico and Canada. The Americans foresaw ACTA establishing the norms according to which other, non-signatory countries should conform to continue to have commercial relations with the signatory states. Fabrizio Mazza, head of the Italian intellectual property office at the Italian foreign ministry, warned in 2007 that it would be hard to get an agreement as envisaged. “Mazza is confused and concerned because he thinks it will be much more difficult to reach an agreement by involving the EU, and he understood the USG (US government) intent was to deal directly and preferably with only member states, instead of the Commission.” However Washington had said it wanted to deal with the commission in view of its “desire to avoid getting in the middle of a debate on EU member-state competencies while noting that the topic was a complex one involving not only trade, but also intellectual property rights, customs, law enforcement, and judicial issues.” Italy, with the United Kingdom and Sweden, criticized the confidential nature of the treaty, which would prevent member states entering into the necessary discussions with stakeholders and parliaments. They were also worried about the influence of US businesses and pressure groups on the treaty negotiations. (See article) The WikiLeaks cables also show that although Japan had some enthusiasm for the treaty, it had expressed some objections, saying it would prefer a partnership with international organizations. Hisamitsu Arai, secretary general at the intellectual properly and strategy office, is quoted as saying “that the intent of the agreement is to address the IPR problems of third-nations such as China, Russia, and Brazil, not to negotiate the different interests of like-minded countries.”