Manufacturers in the United States are the world’s leaders in invention and discovery, resulting in not just millions of jobs here at home but also the improvement of lives all around the world. But not every creative spark that helps humanity happens in our borders, and not every idea that benefits U.S. manufacturing or the American people starts on our shores.
Americans rely on innovation from wherever it springs. From health care to environmental technologies, from autonomous vehicles to the latest in information technology, innovation and intellectual property (IP) give rise to products and technologies that enhance everyone’s economic future and quality of life, while giving consumers access to the best choices for what they need. And for manufacturers in the United States specifically, innovation to create these products and technologies is our lifeblood.
That is why it is baffling that many governments around the world have taken shortsighted approaches to IP by implementing policies that undermine IP rights or impose unnecessary regulation. As opposed to pro-growth policies that ensure strong IP protections and remove trade barriers to innovative products, governments are adopting approaches that not only harm manufacturers, large and small, in the United States, but also cripple domestic innovators in these markets by hampering their ability and incentives to innovate.
Latin America is a growing hot spot for these protectionist policies, with a growing number of domestic policies intended to promote compulsory licensing, to narrow the ability of inventors to receive patents and expand regulations that undermine critical research and development and seize confidential business information. These efforts have been seen across the region, in countries from Colombia to Chile, from Brazil to El Salvador, from Argentina to Peru. And these anti-innovation policies are having an impact on their economies. It is no coincidence that this year’s Global Innovation Index shows Latin America as lagging many other regions in innovation, and that its rankings relative to other regions have not improved, nor that its top-performing country (Costa Rica in 2013; Chile in 2018) has fallen by eight places over the past five years.
Such approaches not only rob Latin America of critical access to high-value products and technologies, but they also hurt us all and squander an important opportunity to promote entrepreneurship and growth in manufacturing.
As a community of manufacturers and innovators, who seek more competition—not less—for new ideas and new discoveries, we’re urging Latin American governments to rethink their shortsighted approaches and strengthen the environment for innovation and protection of IP. Their people and their economies depend on it, and the world would be better for it.