Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Chirac Attacks U.S. for AIDS 'Blackmail'

BBC - In a veiled attack on the US, France has criticized bilateral trade deals that force poor nations to give up rights to make cheaper anti-Aids drugs. President Chirac said such deals undermined an international accord that lets poor countries produce such drugs. In a statement to an Aids conference in Bangkok, he said such policy would be tantamount to "blackmail". But US officials dismissed the charge, saying their trade deals were in line with World Trade Organization rules.

Earlier, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan urged Washington to show the same commitment to the fight against HIV/Aids as to the war on terror. Terrorism could kill thousands but "here we have an epidemic that is killing millions", Mr Annan said in an exclusive interview with the BBC...

WTO rules allow poorer countries to ignore foreign patents and produce much cheaper copies of expensive drugs in times of health crises. The agreement was signed by all WTO members, including the US. But analysts say the it does not prevent a nation from imposing patent restrictions in a bilateral trade deal.

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