By Ben Wodecki
If the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) doesn’t improve intellectual property protections, then it’s not a better deal, according to the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI).
IPI’s warning came after US president Donald Trump claimed on 27 August that he had struck a “really good” deal with Mexico, despite threatening to pull out of NAFTA on several previous occasions.
Trump said that the deal should be renamed the US-Mexico Trade Agreement to remove the “bad connotation” of the name NAFTA.
In a blog post, IPI president Tom Giovanetti said that the president is “not wrong that NAFTA can and should be improved” but that negotiators must insist on stronger IP protection.
Failure to improve on IP protection will be a “missed opportunity and a failure to deliver on a key campaign promise” Giovanetti warned.
He wrote: “Today, the US is a creators’ economy: we patent new inventions, copyright new creative works, and trademark strong new brands.”
“These industries, identified as the ‘IP-intensive’ industries by the US Commerce Department, are responsible for nearly one-third of all U.S. jobs and for more than 38.2 percent of US gross domestic product.
Giovanetti highlighted that IP-intensive industries make up for 18.2 percent of all employment in the US, which equates to 27.9 million jobs.
He noted key points that need to be implemented in any new NAFTA agreement, such as Mexico implementing the World IP Organization Internet Treaties and other basic copyright protections.
Giovanetti also took aim at Canada, which has been reluctant to sign a new deal with the US and Mexico over fears it will be bad for the country.
Giovanetti said that Canada should not be allowed to continue to undermine the patents of US companies, that both Mexico and Canada should step up to bear more of the cost of the pharmaceutical innovation that they enjoy, and there should be more transparency in government pricing decisions.
He added: “When NAFTA came into effect, the US economy was already more dependent on innovation than upon traditional manufacturing.”
“And in the 25 years since, that trend has only continued. Revisiting NAFTA provides an opportunity to materially improve the agreement for all parties involved, including updating its IP protections.”