The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has deferred intellectual property consultations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement until its IP negotiator returns from meetings in the United States.
Australian TPP negotiators met with industry stakeholders this week in Brisbane and Sydney to discuss a range of issues connected to the agreement, including transparency.
However, Australia's intellectual property negotiator for TPP was absent from the briefings, leading DFAT's negotiation team to delay consultation on the intellectual property chapter of the TPP agreement.
The department has called an IP-specific consultation with industry stakeholders in Sydney on February 21.
A spokesman for Trade Minister Craig Emerson told iTnews that Australia is pushing for a "high-calibre IP chapter" that reflects the country's legislation and the principles embodied in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) signed last year.
The Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is inquiring into ACTA and due to report to the Government within 20 sitting days.
DFAT sought to assure concerned stakeholders that TPP talks will not be used to extend Australia's obligations beyond those laid out in the ACTA.
"The Government will not support provisions in trade agreements that constrain Australia's ability to regulate legitimately on social, environmental and other similar important public policy matters," the spokesman said.
One attendee of the Sydney meeting this week, Pirate Party Australia president David Campbell, tweeted: "Aus is looking to not shift on any IP agreements through #tpp beyond those already held with the US. Lots of caveats however."
Another source who attended this week's briefings said that DFAT representatives are aware of criticisms about the lack of transparency in IP policy, and - as with ACTA - are keen to be seen to be as transparent as possible.
"DFAT don't appear to be keen on agreeing to any IP obligations that go beyond AUSFTA / ACTA," another source said.
The stakeholder meetings are being held in the lead-up to the next round of international negotiations on the TPP agreement, to be held in Melbourne next month.
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