On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco earlier this month, the United States and 13 other Indo-Pacific countries held their seventh round of negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). PhRMA has emphasized that in order for IPEF to meaningfully improve the ability of U.S. biopharmaceutical manufacturers to export medicines to patients in the Indo-Pacific region, then the agreement must include:
- Strong IP protections;
- Market access provisions that provide transparency and predictability;
- Regulatory provisions that support innovation; and
- Commitments to dismantle unfair trade barriers.
Unfortunately, the Biden Administration announced a much less ambitious agenda and, despite the constant chorus of concerns expressed by Congress, the business community and other stakeholders, has continued to pursue a limited and shortsighted IPEF agreement.
The Biden Administration’s current approach forgoes critical opportunities to expand U.S. jobs and exports and, as the recent negotiating round demonstrates, is insufficient to secure high-standard commitments from Indo-Pacific partners on labor and other issues that the Administration has prioritized. Indeed, despite their objective to finalize the IPEF’s Trade Pillar by the time of the APEC summit, the participants failed to conclude any of the chapters under negotiation. This failure has raised doubts about the future of the initiative and underscores the urgent need for the Biden Administration to pursue a comprehensive and ambitious IPEF agreement.
IPEF is an important opportunity to expand U.S. manufacturing and exports of innovative medicines, create high-paying American jobs and increase economic growth in the United States and the Indo-Pacific. Due to trade barriers that IPEF, if more ambitious, could address, patients in major Indo-Pacific markets have access to only a small portion of new medicines launched globally since 2012 (compared to 85% in the United States) and often wait years for medicines that become available (compared to 4 months in the United States).
Absent a much more ambitious approach on the part of the United States, IPEF will fall far short of its stated objectives to boost trade and investment flows, enhance standards and reduce trade barriers between the United States and Indo-Pacific partners. PhRMA encourages the Administration to pivot and pursue an IPEF agreement that supports America’s biopharmaceutical workers through strong market access, IP and other pro-innovation provisions.