On April 23, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly passed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between South Korea and Central America, which includes provisions on intellectual property. The text will now go to the plenary, where it is to be debated after the July 1 recess. On April 30, the Assembly also passed a bill to facilitate medicine purchase and sent it to the Executive. In addition, the Executive issued two resolutions to simplify medicine import procedures and speed up the processes for registering intellectual property, which are both in force.
The FTA with Korea was presented by the Minister of Trade and Industry (MICI, in Spanish), Ramón Martínez, who explained that Panama is the only Central American country that has not yet ratified the agreement, unlike Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The text has chapters on intellectual property rights applicable to all parties. The Assembly also passed a bill authored by Representative Javier Sucre (Democratic Revolutionary Party – ruling party) allowing public institutions to directly acquire the medicines necessary to tackle the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
On April 22, the Health Ministry (MINSA, in Spanish) published a resolution in the Official Gazette including a list of certificates that no longer require legalization so as to “speed up” the entry of medicines to the country.
Finally, on May 4, the MICI published a resolution, in the Official Gazette, announcing that the procedures for new applications or renewals of trademarks, mergers, brand name changes and others, may be done via email to the General Directorate of the Industrial Property Registry (DIGERPI, for its acronym in Spanish).