Round ten of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations in Washington concluded on Friday with countries confirming progress on all fronts and hopes to reach agreement on all remaining substantive issues at the next round in negotiations in Japan in late September. While the joint statement is not yet online, Reuters reports that the U.S. believes the remaining issues – including the U.S. – E.U. divide over geographical indications – could be resolved at the next meeting. The statement repeats earlier assurances about the impact on fundamental rights, cross-border transit of generic medicines, and iPod searching border guards.
It also appears that there was again no agreement on releasing the draft text, with the U.S. presumably the ongoing obstacle. Instead, countries pledge to release the final text before deciding to sign it. Yet releasing the text once negotiations are concluded is too late. Countries always have the option of not signing an agreement (or later not implementing), but once the treaty is concluded it will be too late to make substantive changes. The decision to block release of the draft text is a serious blow to ACTA transparency just as the agreement appears to be nearing conclusion.
Update: The official joint statement has now been posted. It confirms that the draft text following this round will not be released.