Empowered SENADI, FTA Synergies: Will the Tide Turn on Ecuadorian PBR?
CIOPORA’s September Mission to Quito, Ecuador
September 19 – 23, Quito – on occasion of the fall industry trade fairs 2018 in Ecuador, CIOPORA’s legal counsel Micaela Filippo joined Dean Rule and IRBA members in Quito with the goal to explore opportunities for improvement of the Ecuadorian PBR regime. Beside visiting CIOPORA members and selected growers at the Expo Flor 2018, the main points of the mission’s agenda included meetings with SENADI, the National Service for Intellectual Property Rights established in April 2018 in place of IEPI, as well as the talks with the EU Delegation and the US Embassy in Ecuador. The meetings explored ways to strengthen the position of CIOPORA members in the country and find synergies to improve the national PBR regime and enforcement.
SENADI – broadened competencies, ambitious goals. At first glance, the institutional changes undertaken by the April 2018 launch of SENADI seem promising to IP right holders. According to Mr Santiago Cevallos, the SENADI’s Chief Executive Officer, beyond the name change, the new agency was entrusted with a much broader scope of competencies than its predecessor IEPI. Both digitalization and acceleration of the title application process and reduction of the fees are among SENADI’s short-term priorities. Furthermore, a recently passed procedural law stipulates that SENADI, now also overseeing IP enforcement, will solve all pending administrative claims as to IP infringement filed before July 2018 within the period of six months. Yet, according to Mr Cevallos, the agency had no such pending claims in the area of Plant Variety Protection.
Mr Cevallos acknowledged that the current laws imposed significant barriers to foreign and domestic investment by not providing enough guarantees for innovators. He anticipated that a new PBR law was, however distant, a possibility in a long run, but that it was more realistic to expect short-term solutions of regulatory nature. SENADI expressed its readiness to cooperate closely with breeders and CIOPORA on such issues as reduction of PBR fees and enforcement. Starting in October 2018, the agency will organize a series of eight consultative meetings with stakeholders. With these consultations in view, CIOPORA provided Mr Cevallos with a report outlining the shortcomings of the current Ecuadorian PBR regime and the most crucial issues that can be tackled by potential new regulations.
Trade synergies. In meetings with the EU Delegation and the US embassy in Ecuador, CIOPORA focused on providing a full picture of Ecuador’s current Plant Variety Protection regime and its limitations. Talking to Ms Jativa of the EU Delegation, CIOPORA stressed that no real changes to the national PBR regime had occurred since the FTA signing in 2016. Acknowledging the problem, Ms Jativa confirmed that there were talks about new legislation, but no concrete action had been undertaken yet by the Government. CIOPORA will stay in touch with the EU Delegation and reach out to suggested contacts within the Ecuador Government.
At the US embassy, the CIOPORA delegation met with the Economic Attaché Mr Geoffrey Schadrack, who agreed that a potential US-Ecuador FTA could become an effective instrument to achieve a PBR upgrade in Ecuador. Although the current Government of Ecuador had on multiple occasions expressed interest in such an agreement, considering the status of IP protection and the current forecast for an economic slowdown in 2019, it was yet far away from reality.
Top-notch rose growers. The subsequent visits at the leading rose growers Rosa Prima and Royal demonstrated what a prominent role the rose production played for the country’s economy. The growers showcased the highest quality standards in roses as well technical know-how, with Rosa Prima featuring an in-house-developed system of automatic rails connecting their production and post-harvest facilities and a lab for the vase life testing. With Ecuadorian rose farms being innovation-driven businesses, it is crucial for CIOPORA to continue its engagement in Ecuador and work on establishing a safe and rewarding business environment for all industry players.