US Vice-President Joe Biden raised concerns over Colombia’s commitment to its free trade agreement with the US in a letter sent to President Juan Manuel Santos last week, according to El Tiempo newspaper.
After apologizing for not attending the inauguration ceremony for President Santos’ second term in office commencing this August, Biden went on to stress the importance of the two nations’ Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in May 2012.
“In order to deepen and expand our bilateral economic cooperation, we must keep our focus on the pressing issues and consequences of our commercial agenda,” wrote Biden.
Biden regretted that Colombia has yet to develop intellectual property legislation more in line with that of the US. He also lamented the supposedly poor state of Colombia’s air quality due to metal scrapping; a practice which, incidentally, is also hurting the US’s vehicle exports to the South American country.
Biden went on to express his doubts over the Colombian Government’s restrictions on ethanol imports and its move to adopt a more economical method to supply medication to average Colombians, namely by creating an “abbreviated path” of approval for biosimilar products produced at a lower cost, provided they do not involve too complex molecules, according to El Tiempo.
“Both the World Health Organization and US experts believe this could put people’s health in danger,” wrote Biden.
One must keep in mind that the US has a considerable stake in this potential legislation change; most laboratories currently manufacturing medication for export to Colombia are from the US. Moreover, if this legislation is passed, it will only come into effect in 20 years’ time when the current patent expires, which grants US drug companies a monopoly on the market up until that time, according to El Tiempo.
Biden is, however, confident that the two nations can find “a way” to resolve these issues.