Hitchhiker’s Guide to the TPP

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Tomorrow, the Government of Peru will host stakeholders from around the world during the 17thround of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP provides an opportunity to strengthen U.S. trade relationships in one of the most robust, dynamic regions in the world. The White House has cited the TPP’s potential to create a truly 21st century trade agreement. But what does that really mean? When we talk about a 21st century trade agreement and gold-standard intellectual property protections, it may sound like science fiction, but it has very real implications for the United States and partner countries.

What is a 21st century trade agreement?

The world looks very different today than a generation ago. As stakeholders approach negotiations, the agreements must represent the unique challenges, values, and priorities of the 21st century. The U.S. has demonstrated a commitment to creating jobs, and promoting innovation and competitiveness. In order to meet the 21st century challenges to innovation and economic growth, the TPP must recognize and preserve the critical role of intellectual property standards.

How can we provide gold-standard IP protections?

The TPP needs to provide a gold-standard for intellectual property protections to meet the new and emerging challenges of the 21st century. As negotiators discuss the best course of action, the U.S. Trade Representative must push for international standards that match U.S. law. These high standards would ensure that American companies can compete with their foreign competitors on a level playing field.

A successful TPP agreement would match international standards to U.S. intellectual property laws:

Patents: Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the U.S. patent linkage system protects marketing rights for new medicines as they move through the regulatory approval process.

Data Exclusivity: The size and complexity of biologic compounds make them inherently difficult for IP protection. Since they cannot be patented with a molecular formula, data exclusivity or data protection is critical for biologics. For this reason, U.S. law provides 12-years of data exclusivity for biologics. To spur research and development in the Asia-Pacific region, the TPP must meet this robust standard.

Applying these standards internationally would help foster innovation, support economic growth, and ensure that the U.S. can remain economically competitive in the global marketplace.

The TPP announcement in November 2011 represented a commitment from nine countries—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States. Since then, three additional countries, Canada, Mexico, and Japan, have sought membership in this consortium of countries committed to enhancing trade, spurring investment, promoting innovation, and fostering economic growth. As more countries recognize the value of the TPP and seek membership in the agreement, the increasing scope creates a pressing need for high-quality standards that will realize the agreement’s full potential. Through strong IP and market access rules, TPP member countries can set forth a template for 21st century trade that promotes innovation and produces economic growth for all participants.