Official says Peru may have to choose between US, Andean Community trade pacts
May 21, 2008 - International Herald Tribune (Asociated Press)

LIMA, Peru --- Peru may be forced to choose between a trade pact with the United States and one with its neighbors, a senior official says.

A deal with the United States, approved by the U.S. Congress last year, can't take effect until Peru tightens intellectual property laws.

But Andean Community rules require Peru to get permission from other members to modify such laws -- and the leftist governments of Bolivia and Ecuador have rejected Peru's request to do so, Eduardo Ferreyros, vice-minister of foreign trade, said late Tuesday on Canal N television.

Bolivia and Ecuador voted down Peru's petition during a recent meeting of Andean Community trade officials, decision Ferreyros called political. The other member of the Community, Colombia, is awaiting approval of its own trade deal with its ally Washington.

"I hope they don't put us in a position where we have to choose between the Andean pact and moving forward" with the U.S. deal, Ferreyros said.

The rules in dispute include compensation for use of pharmaceutical patents and restrictions on the use of pharmaceutical test data on brand-name drugs for five years after the drug is registered.

Foreign Trade Minister Mercedes Araoz told Lima daily El Comercio that Peru will continue to seek a political solution with its fellow Andean Community members but will "make the appropriate decisions" if none is reached.

Peru's government hopes to fully implement the U.S. free trade pact by early 2009.

Andean pact members grant one another trade concessions and allow their citizens to travel among member nations without a passport.