Last Thursday, United States Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk spoke to the Washington International Trade Association about the gains the administration has made in international trade negotiations, especially highlighting the high level of intellectual property standards achieved in the Korea U.S. Trade Agreement (KORUS). As I have previously mentioned, we are pleased KORUS contains 21st century intellectual property standards that will help deliver new and innovative medicines globally while keeping us from falling behind in the global market.
Ambassador Kirk said that, as negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue, the United States government will push for the highest level of intellectual property rights. He said, "We believe that we can garner support for a robust TPP agreement in part because the Obama Administration has shown a strong commitment to making our trade agreements - and our trading partners - live up to what they say."
The strong emphasis that Ambassador Kirk has placed on achieving high standards of intellectual property rights (IPR) in these negotiations is not only appreciated, but encouraged. But, why is this important? Why do we care? What are the implications for patients and U.S. global competitiveness?
- For patients, strong IPR standards not only foster innovation and creativity, but they allow patients access to new and innovative medicines.
- IP-intensive industries employ slightly more than 19 million Americans across all 50 states and in all sectors from manufacturing to agriculture to services; it is important to protect these industries in order to protect U.S. jobs.
- Trade builds on innovation. Innovative sectors take up a large share of the world economy. The amount of resources spent on research and development (R&D) have multiplied over the past decades.
- As Ambassador Kirk has previously said, "Intellectual property is critical to the development of knowledge-based and creative industries. A strong IP framework will give every country the potential to attract trade and investment and 'move up the value chain' to become an IP producer."
As Harrison Cook, my colleague at Lilly as Vice President for International Government Affairs and a former trade negotiator for the Department of Commerce, said in an interview with Inside U.S. Trade last week, "protection consistent with U.S. law is essential." We hope Ambassador Kirk will continue to push for high IPR in pending trade agreements in order to help provide greater access to new and innovative medicines throughout the world.