[Ip-health] IP Watch: USTR Froman: FTAs A Way To Get Higher IP Standards Into Global Trade “Bloodstream”

Krista L. Cox krista.cox at keionline.org
Thu Oct 31 05:14:14 PDT 2013


USTR Froman: FTAs A Way To Get Higher IP Standards Into Global Trade

By William New, Intellectual Property Watch

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman today said that bilateral
and regional agreements offer a way to get higher standards in areas such
as intellectual property rights protection “into the bloodstream” of the
global trading system, when it is not possible to do it through
multilateral agreements.

Speaking to The Economist’s Buttonwood gathering in New York, Froman said
that “global trade is expected to grow is expected to grow more slowly in
the future than it has in the past.”

Froman’s speech is available here.

One way to address it is to open markets further, creating new
opportunities for trade and investment and reducing unnecessary costs and
efficiencies in the system. That is why the Obama administration is
pursuing “perhaps the most ambitious trade agenda in American history,” he

In particular, he referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the
EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or (TTIP), which he
said “together will allow us to conduct free trade with economies
representing nearly two-thirds of global GDP.”

Through these agreements, the US is trying to bring global standards higher
on issues like labour, environment or intellectual property rights
protection, he said.

“Other countries are busy negotiating preferential access to key markets.
They may not share our high standards on labor or environmental or
intellectual property rights issue protections.”

“So we need to take the field and help set the standards,” he said.
“Otherwise, we will be standard-takers in a global economy that does not
necessarily reflect America’s interests and values.”

Froman said all parties recognise that multilateral trade liberalization
“is the highest and best form of trade liberalization.” But he said it can
only succeed if and when all countries, including the emerging markets, are
prepared to take on responsibilities and open their markets commensurate
with their role in the global economy.”

So until then, he said, “all we can do is collaborate with what we expect
to be an increasingly broad coalition to raise the standards, develop new
disciplines and set new norms.

“As these norms make their way into the bloodstream of the international
trading system, it is our hope that they ultimately will become hallmarks
of the multilateral trading system,” Froman said. “The stronger we can make
TPP, TTIP, and these other agreements, the more compelling it will be for
other countries to raise their own standards to compete with them or to
join them outright.”

The US needs to ensure that trade agreements make it possible for American
workers to compete and to make sure, “through the enforcement of our trade
rights, that we hold other countries to the highest possible standards.”

According to reports, some countries in the TPP negotiations, such as
Chile, have pushed back against the US attempt to raise IP standards above
those agreed in existing bilateral trade agreements.

Froman told Intellectual Property Watch afterward that the IP rights
chapter of the TPP is still under negotiation following a recent round of
negotiations on it. “We’re working on it,” he said.

He urged Congress to support a push to grant the President trade promotion
authority, which would limit Congress to a yes or no vote on trade
agreements negotiated by the White House.

Froman also painted a relatively positive economic picture of the US
compared with its trading partners, but took a swipe at gridlock in
Washington, DC which undermines the positive movement.

“In many respects, the United States is the nicest house on a relatively
ugly block,” he said. “We have dealt aggressively with problems in our
financial sector, are seeing a recovering housing and jobs market,
de-leveraging of household debt, and the discovery of new sources of energy
creating the potential for a renaissance in American manufacturing while
significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

“For the United States, our risk is that our political system fails to do
what it needs to do – on fiscal issues, immigration, trade and other issues
– to lock in this virtuous cycle.”

Krista L. Cox
Staff Attorney
Knowledge Ecology International
(202) 332-2670

Krista L. Cox
Staff Attorney
Knowledge Ecology International
(202) 332-2670

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