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Protecting Biotechnology IPRs in Developing Countries: Simple Analytics of a Levy Solution


  • Ryan Cardwell
  • William A. Kerr


High transaction costs and an absence of institutional infrastructure in developing countries prevent comprehensive enforcement of intellectual property rights and generate obstacles to the adoption of genetically modified (GM) crop technology. Governments of developing countries that are members of the World Trade Organization are faced with two options when licensing GM crop technology: (1) attempt to regulate GM crops to the standards of the Agreement on Trade‐Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) or (2) allow a black market in GM seeds and risk trade retaliation from the GM innovator's host country through a TRIPS trade complaint. This paper develops a conceptual model that frames the adopting country's range of licensing options, including a new levy system, and derives welfare measures for each option. The model illustrates how a levy on GM technology can be a welfare‐increasing policy for developing countries, and the operation of a levy is discussed. The conceptual model is applied to Brazil's soybean market and quantitative economic surplus measures are estimated within a calibrated welfare model for a range of licensing scenarios. The model's results suggest that a levy may interfere with the long‐term prospects for innovators to collect monopoly rents in adopting countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Ryan Cardwell & William A. Kerr, 2008. "Protecting Biotechnology IPRs in Developing Countries: Simple Analytics of a Levy Solution," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 217-236, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jageco:v:59:y:2008:i:2:p:217-236
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1477-9552.2007.00141.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carsten Fink & Keith E. Maskus, 2005. "Intellectual Property and Development : Lessons from Recent Economic Research," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7443, November.
    2. James D. Gaisford & William A. Kerr, 2001. "Economic Analysis for International Trade Negotiations," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2243.
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    1. Kerr, William A., 2017. "Genomics, International Trade and Food Security," Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy, Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade, vol. 18(2), December.
    2. Cardwell, Ryan T., 2008. "Food Aid and the WTO: Can New Rules Be Effective?," Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy, Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade, vol. 9(1), pages 1-20.

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