During a seminar about Property Rights, Innovation, and Investment carried out by Libertad y Progreso and the Property Rights Alliance at the University of CEMA, former Economic Minister and presidential candidate Ricardo Lopez Murphy declared that “the countries that have progressed the most and those whose inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living are those in which property rights are respected and there is a strong legislative framework protecting them”. This is no coincidence. During this event, the International Index of Property Rights was launched. This index was developed in Argentina by Libertad y Progreso and the Property Rights Alliance.
López Murphy spoke at the seminar alongside Sary Levi-Carciente (economist and author of the Index), Lorenzo Montanari (executive director of the Property Rights Alliance), Diana Mondino (economist and director at CEMA), Dámaso Pardo (president of the National Institute for Private Property ) and Martín Bensadon (expert in Property Law and partner at Marval & O’Farrell).
“There can be no capitalism or economic system without property rights. There’s no Democratic Republic without property rights. These three elements, a Democratic Republic, a successful economic system and property rights are intrinsically linked. There’s no such thing as personal autonomy or individual liberty in a crony democracy where the current government decides who gets what” López Muphy explains. “There are many threats to property. But the most dangerous one is the thieve living among us, that can be a government with a vocation to confiscate” he continued.
During her turn, economist Diana Mondini spoke extensively about the double standard that permeates Argentine culture, as here you have to pay property tax when you play music, but not when you use genetically modified seeds, or vaccines. “And thus we see that we lag behind in innovation, being far behind in the study of genomic events and other advances because intellectual property rights are unprotected” she highlighted.
Then, Dámaso Pardo explained why it is good that the CONICET is starting to emphasize the applied sciences and fields in which our country has many advantages like biotechnology and agro-industry. “The defense of intellectual property is key to leverage the process of innovation. Once the innovator gets a patent he can get a copyright license and only then he can find the funds to start the project” he declared. Pardo also recommended that the strategic areas in which Argentina could grow should be defined in order to support innovation in those sectors.
Afterward, Bensadon compared Argentina to South Korea in terms of property rights. “In 1969 Argentina presented 7330 patent applications and South Korea only one. In 2011 Argentina introduced 4803 requests and South Korea 178 000. Today Argentina has fewer requests for patents than Chile, Costa Rica or Mexico and is placed 9th in the region” he pointed out. “We are not part of the Patent Coop Treaty, that includes every other country the world except Venezuela. What’s worst is that there’s a document from the Ministry of Science and Technology that defends this posture. There’s a massive lobby from sectors of the economy to keep it that way” he continued.
According to Bensadon, the whole question can be reduced to deciding which type of country we want to become. “The more developed and Republican countries have a solid legal system in which property rights are defended. We have to ask ourselves if we want to be like, for example, Denmark, or we want to be like those authoritarian countries that don’t respect property rights” he stated.
As part of the seminary, Sary Levi Carciente commented on the results of the International Property Rights. In Argentina’s case, for 2017, the country improved its performance regarding respect for property rights. It has now reached the 97th position among the 127 countries that were studied. Argentina’s punctuation improved by 0.45 points reaching 4.57 points in the Index. At an international level, New Zealand tops the list as the country that respects property rights the most, with a punctuation of 8.63. Finland occupies the second place, followed by Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, Singapur, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Denmark. The first 15 countries are completed with Austria, the US, and Great Britain.
On the contrary, the countries that respect property rights the least are Yemen (1.27), Venezuela, Bangladesh, Moldavia, Ukraine and Burundi, listed in order.
Montanari explained that since 2007, the index has served as a barometer of the state of Property Rights around the world as it classifies the security of both physical and intellectual property rights. The data this index uses covers 127 countries, which altogether comprise 98% of the worlds GDP and 93% of its population. The index is composed of 10 factors grouped into 3 components: Legal Environment, Physical Property Rights, and Intellectual Property Rights. The index was created by Dr. Levy Carciente, an economist that won the Hernando de Soto 2017 and a member of the National Academy of Economy of Venezuela and CEDICE Libertad.