A Modernized NAFTA Should Mean Modernized IP Protection

Last week, innovators and creators around the world celebrated World IP Day. Individuals and organizations from countries near and far heralded the ways IP protection brings the newest content and technology to markets everywhere.

Nowhere is this more true than in North America, where the United States, Canada, and Mexico are quickly working towards completing a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As the governments continue with the rapid pace of negotiations, it is critical that intellectual property is elevated to the forefront of the conversation.

On World IP Day, innovative and creative industries in North America highlighted the importance of securing more effective IP protections in the modernized NAFTA agreement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Intellectual Property Council, and Asociación Mexicana de Industrias de Investigación Farmacéutica penned a letter to the NAFTA negotiating ministers discussing the importance of 21st century IP protections in the modernized agreement. The letter notes:

“IP protections provide the legal certainty needed for innovators and creators to make high-risk, high-capital investment into the newest creative content, cutting-edge technologies, and next generation medicines. In the United States alone, IP-intensive industries support 45.5 million jobs, account for $6.6 trillion in U.S. GDP, and sustain 52% of all U.S. exports.”

The U.S. Chamber’s International IP Index further illustrates the importance to all countries of investing in more effective and robust IP frameworks. The letter states:

“The U.S. Chamber’s International IP Index, which measures 50 countries against 40 IP indicators, shows North America as a whole at a considerable disadvantage to global leaders in Europe and Asia. Moreover, the Index provides evidence of a strong positive relationship between IP strength and achievement of socio-economic goals such as foreign direct investment, private sector R&D spending, and access to new technologies. NAFTA modernization is an opportunity to elevate the IP frameworks to a level commensurate with the world’s leading economies – if it fails to put Canada and Mexico among the top 10 countries ranked on the Index it will be a missed opportunity.”

In order for North America to become the most innovative and creative trading bloc in the world, the governments of all three countries must invest in a more effective IP framework. We encourage the negotiators to embrace spirit of World IP Day and ensure that the modernized NAFTA agreement secures an updated IP chapter in order to support the growth of innovative and creative industries across North America.

Kelly Anderson is the director of international policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center.

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