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Governing Knowledge: Discourses and Tactics of the European Union in Trade-Related Intellectual Property Negotiations



Abstract:  With global shifts in the format of international trade negotiations—from multilateral to bilateral and regional fora—possibilities for the unequal exercise of power have amplified. At risk are the trade-related interests of “developing” economies, as well as public policy issues like access to medicines. In response we analyse some of the emerging governmental approaches currently being employed for trade-related intellectual property (IP) rules. Our concern is to provide a deeper understanding of the ways power is exercised internationally. Here, we explore the European Union (EU) approaches towards trade negotiations. Examining the role of the EU in IP-related trade negotiations, recent actions towards “economic partnership agreements” with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries are discussed. Rather than exercise a singular approach, the EU has pursued a range of tactics, including educational and incentive-based measures, but also surveillance of foreign country IP protection, and increasingly overt disciplinary tactics in their negotiations. A veneer of inclusiveness masks a more sophisticated, diversified governing strategy still ultimately concerned with the sovereign or judicial enrolment and compliance of economically/technologically poorer nations to a regulatory apparatus of security that favours European IP interests.