TPP Moves to the Next Phase

TPP Moves to the Next Phase

08.28.14 | By Jay Taylor

Subscribe buttonWe talk a lot in Congress about doing things for our children and grandchildren. Good [intellectual property] policy is one of those things…We would welcome action that assures America’s innovators of this generation and the next that good, strong markets aren’t just a game of chance. They’re driven by individuals confident that their work will be sustained and protected.

– Congressman Doug Collins (GA-9); excerpt from his keynote speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center’s 2nd Annual IP Champions Conference on April 23, 2014

As Congressman Collins eloquently explained, innovation, encouraged and supported by strong intellectual property (IP) rights, provides the United States with the clearest path for prosperity in the 21st Century economy. The desire to continually innovate exists in large part because of the premium placed on intellectual property not just in America, but in countries all over the world. For PhRMA and its member companies, robust IP policies are critical to ensuring that new, groundbreaking medicines and treatments are constantly in the pipeline.

However, there are some nations that have yet to realize the true value of IP and try to undermine the innovations of others in an attempt to prop up their own domestic industries. In the long term though, this kind of myopic thinking often has the opposite effect, stifling high-growth sectors and the economic potential they bring.

A strong Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which is currently being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other countries in the Pacific region including Japan and Canada, can ensure that the cycle of innovation will be sustained and protected for years to come. When enacted, the TPP has the potential to transform global trade, as the participating economies currently comprise almost 40% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Furthermore, the TPP will do more than increase trade among the participating countries, as it will establish specific regulations, including IP policies, which will set a precedent for the global marketplace.

Hurdles still remain, including language on intellectual property rights. A completed agreement was expected in December of 2013; although negotiators missed that deadline, they have continued to meet throughout 2014 in search of a breakthrough. Beginning September 1st, TPP countries will be back at the table, this time in Vietnam, to try and hash out remaining differences in an effort to finalize an agreement when President Obama travels to Asia in November.

It is our hope that the delay in negotiations means that the final TPP will be the best deal possible. A key reason the U.S. is the global leader in innovation is because we have the strongest IP laws in the world; a weak agreement will not only impact our economy but also set a dangerous precedent for future free trade agreements with other nations. We hope the negotiators take Representative Collins’ advice and make the TPP a trade agreement for their children and grandchildren by ensuring that the IP rights in the TPP truly become a gold standard for the rest of the world to follow.  

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