Turkey, Israel Strike Industrial R&D Accord
Representatives of the governments of Turkey and Israel have signed a bilateral industrial R&D agreement, covering hi-tech areas including biotechnology. The deal is firmly aimed at companies wishing to co-operate on developing products for the international market.
The coincidence of interests between Turkey and Israel is significant, as Turkey slowly introduces intellectual property standards broadly in line with European Union norms. Patent protection is a relatively new concept in Turkey, and was only properly introduced in 1995. The country, which is the Middle East's largest drug market, also exports significant quantities of mainly generic and copy medicines, which are expected to be worth at least US$690mn by 2009.
That said, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has recently looked more kindly on Turkey, as evidenced by the decision to upgrade the country's status on its intellectual property list from "priority watch" to "watch" last year. This improvement has been in stark contrast to Israel, which was downgraded by the USTR last week.
At present, it is unclear what practical impact the R&D accord will have,
although the potential to access new EU drug markets via the Turkish route should
be a strategic consideration for Israeli generics makers. Whether, however,
Turkey will be able to offer the level of protection which the Israeli biotech
industry requires is likely to be another matter.