Presidential Debate Calls for Advanced Manufacturing

Presidential Debate Calls for Advanced Manufacturing

10.18.12 | By Chip Davis

I was encouraged Tuesday night during the Presidential debate to hear both candidates say they want to create high-wage, high-skill American jobs in what is called "advanced manufacturing." The biopharmaceutical industry represents just the kind of jobs the President wants and our economy needs. Right now, the innovative U.S. biopharmaceutical industry employs over 650,000 American workers and supports an additional 3.5. million U.S. jobs. These are high-wage, high-skill jobs from an industry representing nearly 20% of all domestic R&D funded by U.S. businesses. Our industry is at the forefront of "advanced manufacturing, " leading the world in the pursuit of new, complex, life-saving and life-enhancing medicines. As we seek to maintain our leadership in innovation, it is important to ensure that these highly complex jobs dealing with mechanisms such as recombinant technology and live proteins that certainly fit this definition of "advanced manufacturing" stay in the U.S..

As we turn the page on the U.S. economy and look forward to pulling ourselves out of the global recession and putting Americans back to work, the biopharmaceutical industry is a natural source of hope - but it is fragile and must be nurtured. Our sector's exports grew by more than 340 % from 1997 to 2011 to a figure of almost $48 billion - the fourth-highest export figure among research and development-intensive industries. In the midst of current economic hard times, these numbers and the potential of our industry for U.S. workers and the economy must not be ignored - at home and abroad. U.S. trade negotiators must work hard to protect U.S. jobs, exports, and the ability of our companies to continue to develop the groundbreaking medicines that are changing the face of health care around the world. To ensure we maintain this important industry, these individuals must be champions for protecting our inventions and ideas in an environment where others seek to take them away.

In short, we need strong trade agreements that recognize the value of our industry. For example, the U.S. is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership and it is critical that our negotiators get it right. That means incorporating protections built off of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and those found in U.S. law, such as 12 years of data protection for biologics. We also need to stand up to countries like India that are using industrial policy to make it difficult or impossible for our innovations to be sold in those countries; or, more brazenly, countries who are simply stealing U.S. ideas and inventions. Negotiators must work hard to protect U.S. jobs, exports, and the ability of our companies to continue to develop the groundbreaking medicines that are changing the face of health care around the world.

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