What You Need to Know About World Trade Week

What You Need to Know About World Trade Week

05.21.14 | By Mark Grayson

President Obama has proclaimed this week “World Trade Week” to raise awareness about the importance of expanding the U.S. international trade footprint in order to generate jobs. While these dates may seem arbitrary to those not intimately engaged on trade matters, the Obama Administration was actually very strategic in its timing as meetings are to be held this week for two critical trade agreements that are currently in development – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Representatives from the European Union (EU) and the U.S. will meet this week in Arlington, Virginia to continue discussions about TTIP, which is a trade accord currently in negotiation between the two parties. Although it is still in its early stages, the TTIP has the potential to further reduce, or in some instances completely remove, the remaining trade barriers and unnecessary duplication that exist between the EU and the U.S. as well as expand their already robust economies.

The TPP is much closer to being finalized than the TTIP. Ministers from the participating nations, which include the U.S. and 11 of its trading partners in the Pacific Rim region, gathered this week in Singapore for another round of negotiations. Since the negotiating countries compose 40% of global trade, once enacted the TPP could increase global exports from these nations by more than $300 billion. A final agreement is not expected from the Singapore meeting but these discussions could provide the momentum needed to close the deal over the coming months.

One of the final hurdles before the TPP can cross the finish line is the need for predictable and robust intellectual property (IP) rights in the TPP. Research-based biopharmaceutical companies on both sides of the Pacific are investing heavily in groundbreaking new treatments for the world’s patients, and a strong TPP would recognize and incentivize the contributions our industry makes to global health and the world’s economy. Additionally, the other TPP nations will be able to reap the same benefits from predictable and enforceable IP laws that have fostered such successful, innovative environments in countries like Japan and the U.S.

“World Trade Week” may not result in any finalized trade agreements but it will hopefully mark a week of significant progress. If the negotiating countries can focus on what they stand to gain from their similar interests, final deals may be realized sooner rather than later, benefiting not only industries but also consumers and patients.

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