At this moment in Dallas, Texas, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations have resumed, with important implications for intellectual property (IP).
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, 75 domestic industries it identifies as “IP-intensive” account for 40 million jobs, approximately 28% of our total employment. Industries reliant upon IP also account for $5 trillion – some 35% – of total American gross domestic product (GDP), 61% of U.S. merchandise exports and pay wages 42% higher than non-IP employers.
It is therefore critical that TPP negotiators establish a solid foundation for IP protection as they move toward finalization.
The TPP currently consists of eight Pacific trading partners in addition to the U.S. – Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru. In 2010 alone, America exported $89 billion in goods to those nations, making the TPP one of our largest collective export markets. The express goal of the TPP charter is “to establish a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges.” And with other Pacific region nations Japan, Canada and Mexico expressing interest in joining the TPP, the agreement currently under negotiation can set the foundation for future trade practices across the Pacific realm.
To its credit, the U.S. stands as a worldwide leader in demanding strong IP standards in agreements such as this, as reflected by domestic laws and international accords such as the one completed just last year with Korea. Similarly, with pressure on to finalize TPP negotiations, we must ensure strong IP protections in the final agreement. Doing so will prove beneficial in terms of protecting American jobs against theft and counterfeit, protecting American consumers against potentially dangerous products, reducing the threat to American creativity and innovation posed by copyright infringement, promoting future innovation, protecting American competitiveness against those who seek to steal our ideas and creations and setting clear rules for worldwide commerce.
If successful, we can set a sound foundation of IP protection, which will prove critical for American innovation, jobs, exports and continued prosperity in an increasingly Pacific-dominated 21st century.