Manufacturers in the United States know that innovation and intellectual property (IP) are crucial for their economic success and that their competitiveness depends on continual innovation: creation of new products, technologies and more efficient processes that meet customer needs. While the United States provides strong IP protections and enforcement, that is too often not the case in overseas markets where IP theft and infringement jeopardizes the innovation and competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States, costing jobs and economic growth here at home.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has long worked with the U.S. government to promote strong IP protections and enforcement globally, including since the creation of the Special 301 process as part of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. The NAM welcomes the new administration’s emphasis on IP protection and enforcement as reflected in its release last week of its 2017 Trade Policy Agenda, particularly given that global IP theft remains a significant challenge for manufacturers in the United States, particularly small and medium-sized manufacturers.
In advance of yesterday’s hearing on global IP challenges, manufacturers emphasized the need for the administration to prioritize a broad range of IP concerns in nearly 40 countries in the NAM’s written submission to the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The NAM’s submission highlights the five most problematic countries for manufacturers, seeking the USTR’s designation of these countries on the USTR’s “priority watch list”: China, Colombia, India, Indonesia and Russia. The NAM also identified an additional group of countries with major IP problems for the USTR’s “watch list,” including Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Thailand. The NAM also recommends a more detailed out-of-cycle review of IP challenges in Colombia and India as a means of identifying specific challenges and prompting specific action. Issues facing manufacturers in these markets cover all areas of IP and innovation, including growing challenges to legitimate patent and trademark use, rampant counterfeiting and piracy, lack of effective trade secrets protection and attacks on IP at global institutions.
The NAM urges the administration to use fully the new tools provided on IP enforcement through last year’s passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, as well as pre-existing tools, from new trade agreement negotiations to formal dispute settlement procedures where needed, to make real progress on the protection and enforcement of IP rights in these markets. The NAM particularly looks forward to joining forces with new Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and USTR-designee Ambassador Robert Lighthizer not just to put a greater spotlight on these ongoing challenges but to make concrete progress that will advance innovation and manufacturing and grow jobs in the United States.
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