- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BRAZIL

U.S. copyright, patents targeted in trade row

BRASILIA | Brazil revealed Monday a preliminary list of U.S. patents and intellectual property rights it could restrict unless both countries settle a long-standing dispute over U.S. cotton aid.

It is the second set of measures Brazil has unveiled in a week to pressure Washington to obey a ruling by the World Trade Organization that found the U.S. cotton subsidies and export credit guarantee program illegal.

Diplomats, trade experts and business leaders are closely watching the case, one of a few in which the WTO has allowed the wronged party to retaliate against a sector not involved in the dispute.

Brazil would become the first country ever to apply what is known as cross retaliation under WTO rules.

The new measures, which are subject to public hearings for 20 days, allow the government to anticipate the expiration of U.S. patents on pharmaceuticals, chemicals and biotechnology. That would allow Brazilian companies to start producing equivalent drugs earlier than expected.

They would also allow Brazil to issue compulsory licenses without compensation in the drugs, chemical, music and audiovisual industries. The measures listed in an official publication would also allow the government to increase fees and tighten regulations on the registration of intellectual property rights.

On March 8, Brazil detailed 102 U.S. goods that will be subject to import tariffs within 30 days unless a last-minute agreement is found.

Total retaliation between both series of measures would be $829 million.

CHILE

Power grid to stay unstable for days

SANTIAGO | Chile’s main power grid will remain “unstable” for the next seven days, President Sebastian Pinera said Monday, a day after a massive outage left most the world’s top copper producer in the dark.

Millions of Chileans were left without power Sunday evening after a transformer failed in the electricity grid, two weeks after a devastating earthquake killed hundreds and mangled roads and bridges in the South American country.

Electricity was gradually restored Sunday evening, but the failure of the South American country’s main power grid is another test for conservative Mr. Pinera, who took office last week on pledges to rebuild Chile after the huge earthquake, which caused an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion in damage.

COLOMBIA

Conservatives lead in congressional race

BOGOTA | Conservative supporters of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe took the lead early Monday as votes were counted in congressional elections that concluded peacefully but have been marred by accusations of fraud.

Partial returns released by electoral authorities showed the Social National Unity Party, a key supporter of Mr. Uribe, was ahead with 24.7 percent of the vote in the Senate races and 29.2 percent in the race for the House of Representatives.

It was followed by the Conservative Party with nearly 21.7 percent of the vote for the Senate and other members of the ruling coalition.

The National Integration Party, some of whose candidates have been linked to former paramilitary groups, had 7.9 percent of the ballot in the Senate contest.

The main opposition Liberal Party lagged far behind with 16.4 percent of the vote for the Senate and 12.7 percent for the House of Representatives.

BOLIVIA

Miss Universe bid dropped over cost

LA PAZ | Bolivia is dropping its bid to host the Miss Universe pageant because it would cost more than anticipated.

President Evo Morales has lobbied foreign leaders to help him bring the glamorous contest to the impoverished South American nation.

But Culture Minister Zulma Yugar said Sunday that a closer look at estimated expenses forced the government to pull out.

Developing countries including Vietnam and Thailand have hosted the pageant in recent years.

Nevertheless, Miss Universe was an odd fit for an anti-capitalist president who is a strong advocate of indigenous culture. Political opponents accused Mr. Morales and his party of using the pageant to court voters in conservative eastern Bolivia ahead of April local elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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