Trade Takes Center Stage

Trade Takes Center Stage

12.04.12 | By Jay Taylor

Now that the election season is behind us, the U.S. trade agenda appears set to heat up. Last week, during a trip to Asia President Obama stressed the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - not only for U.S. trade policy but for greater U.S. geopolitical purposes.

This week trade negotiators from 11 countries are meeting in New Zealand to continue discussions on the TPP - the first meeting that includes newcomers Canada and Mexico. As the TPP grows in scope, so does the need for a high-standard agreement that will help grow U.S. exports and jobs. Biopharmaceuticals will continue to play a key role in the talks - strong IP and market access rules for the sector are integral to U.S. trade now and in the future. Strong protections for the industry will catalyze already strong export growth ($ 47.9B in 2011) and, more importantly, continue to encourage the very high levels of investment our members make to research and develop the medicines of tomorrow - a win-win for our economy and the world's patients.

It is therefore very important that all countries, including recently-added Canada, meet their current trade commitments to the U.S. Canada's weak IP protections have earned it a spot on the United States Trade Representative's (USTR) priority watch list. Canada's deficiencies surrounding equitable access to an appeals process and discriminatory requirements for patenting medicines must be addressed before the TPP can ultimately achieve the goal of becoming the template for 21st century trade.

For the U.S. to continue as a world leader in the life sciences that will bring new, life-enhancing medicines to patients around the world, it is critical for our negotiators to secure a strong deal and to ensure that our trading partners - if they are indeed interested in joining the U.S. in TPP talks - demonstrate their conviction to completing a strong agreement by not only playing by the existing rules but committing to new, ambitious standards that will benefit all. The next year will be crucial, not only for the biopharmaceutical industry but also for the patients around the world who are waiting for new, cutting edge medicines.

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