Yesterday the Administration announced their enhanced strategy to improve protection of trade secrets globally. The Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets consists of five pillars: International Engagement, Voluntary Best Practices by Companies, Increased Law Enforcement Domestically, Legislation, and Public Awareness.

Manufacturers continue to face a number of substantial challenges in the global market, including persistently weak economies, and a growing number of trade barriers across the globe – both in the form of tariff and non-tariff barriers. One of the most concerning challenges facing manufactures in the United States is insufficient protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights abroad. As described in the NAM’s recent submission to USTR on their Special 301 Review, many of our trading partners fail to provide adequate protection of IP rights, including trade secrets.

From biotech and food and beverage and fragrance producers to information technology and medical device makers, manufacturers across numerous types of industries in the United States rely heavily on strong trade secret protection to ensure their global competitiveness.  While the United States has relatively strong protections domestically, manufacturers are facing new and increasing challenges globally, including limited protections or inadequate enforcement, cyber-espionage and theft, and government regulations and practices requiring unnecessary disclosure of confidential business information.

Furthermore, government failure to prevent or deter theft of trade secrets, as well as failure to enforce trade secret protections remain huge challenges to manufacturers who rely on valuable trade secrets in order to continue innovating and growing in the global market.  Many of these government practices or failures are replicated in broader regulatory schemes and may come in the form of indigenous innovation or other localization barriers to trade, non-transparent and discriminatory standards development, non-scientific sanitary and phytosanitary measures, time-consuming and cumbersome government approval processes, and duplicative and unnecessary conformity assessments.

For these reasons, manufacturers welcome initiatives aimed at combating these unfair and illegal practices and look forward to collaborating with the Administration in their efforts to strengthen the international protection and enforcement of IP rights and trade secrets.

Jessica Lemos is director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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