TPP Agreement Is a Mixed Bag, Says ITIF—Good for Tech, Not So Good for Life Sciences

October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON—Stephen Ezell, vice president for global innovation policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), released the following statement on the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations:

The TPP agreement will prove pivotal for the future of global trade and innovation because its provisions both establish the terms of competition in innovation industries and set the bar for all other U.S. trade negotiations going forward. When it comes to technology policy, we are happy to say that the agreement sets a high bar that will maximize the opportunity for innovation worldwide. Unfortunately, for the life science sectors, negotiators have settled on a low bar that will be detrimental to biotechnology innovation, and ultimately patient health outcomes, for years to come.

The digital economy is global, and information must be able to flow freely across borders for that economy to flourish. By committing parties to protecting free cross-border data flows and prohibiting countries from requiring that their citizens’ data be stored on local servers, the TPP agreement ensures information technology will remain the principal driver of modern economic growth. In addition, the new protections against trade secret theft help ensure that future generations of technological innovation continue to drive a robust global economy. Such intellectual property (IP) protections are essential for global trade to thrive, for without them, there would be little incentive to take on the risk and expense of innovation.

Despite these gains, insufficient protections for other types of IP still remain—particularly for clinical trial data for biologic medicines. U.S. law, passed on a bipartisan basis, establishes 12 years of protection for this data, but unfortunately the TPP agreement settled for a five- to eight-year window. While we are pleased to see some other nations raising their standards closer to U.S. law in recognition of the importance of protecting intellectual property, five to eight years is simply not sufficient. Europe grants at least 10 years of data protection, so this new agreement puts America behind the eight ball when it comes to competing with European nations. Moreover, weaker standards will slow the rate of global biomedical innovation. While the TPP agreement may include five to eight years of protection, we strongly urge Congress to retain 12 years as U.S. law.

As Congress begins to review this new framework, we implore lawmakers to remember the importance of having a high-standard agreement that sets the bar for all future global trade agreements. Global economic growth and the innovation economy depend on it.