US On International Trade Crusade With New Agenda

The recently released US annual trade agenda shows an intention to conquer new international markets, strengthen the global trade system and enforce obligations and US intellectual property rights. The US also means to address what they consider as trade barriers. [Update: President Obama spoke on the trade agenda today, more below.]

Enforcement of trade rules and rights, notably IP rights, and addressing market access barriers are described as very important to the objective of expanding trade opportunities, according to President Obama’s agenda released by the US Trade Representative’s Office on 1 March.

[Update: In remarks today to the Export-Import Bank, President Obama hailed the US trade agenda as a significant job-generator, and highlighted the importance of intellectual property rights. He said: “we’re going to aggressively protect our intellectual property. Our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people. It is essential to our prosperity and it will only become more so in this century. But it’s only a competitive advantage if our companies know that someone else can’t just steal that idea and duplicate it with cheaper inputs and labor. There’s nothing wrong with other people using our technologies, we welcome it – we just want to make sure that it’s licensed, and that American businesses are getting paid appropriately. That’s why USTR is using the full arsenal of tools available to crack down on practices that blatantly harm our businesses, and that includes negotiating proper protections and enforcing our existing agreements, and moving forward on new agreements, including the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.”]

[Mark Esper of the US Chamber of Commerce Global IP Center commented, “As the President stated in his address today before the Export-Import Bank, we cannot achieve job growth without aggressively protecting our intellectual property.”]

The US trade agenda was warmly welcomed by the Chamber Global IP Center on 9 March, and by other US industry, although some items referred to in the agenda are being debated internationally, such as the World Trade Organization Doha Round of negotiations and bilateral trade agreements. Meanwhile, the overly strong enforcement of IP rights has been considered by human rights advocates as hindering access to technology, health and knowledge.

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