The TPP is an open ended trade agreement which will set the standard for world trading systems in years to come. It is not only poised to tackle traditional trade issues like reducing/removing tariffs but also other topics vital for modern global economy. Intellectual property rules are only one of the areas where Japan and the U.S. have not been able to reach an agreement. All TPP nations agree that strong protections for patents, trademarks, copyrights and other IP are essential to promote economic growth and create and sustain good paying jobs. But as two of the world’s most innovative societies, Japan and the U.S. have a critical stake in getting these rules right.
For the negotiators, getting the rules right must start with securing 12 years of protection for clinical trial and other data submitted for approval of innovative biologic medicines. Such medicines are delivering life-changing and life-sustaining treatments for a wide array of chronic diseases. But biologics are not adequately protected by patents alone, and developing them is a costly and risky business. With the strongest protection laws in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and the US become leading centers for biologic research so they need to join them in setting high standards. The biologic medicines sector is dominated by small, start-up companies, and firms in Singapore and Malaysia are among those leading the way.
In many parts of the US and Japan, the rules already have strong support, and Prime Minister Abe’s visit is a vital chance to lay the foundation of rules on Intellectual Property that can sustain innovative industries. Members of Congress across the country have sent letters urging President Obama to secure 12 years of data protection for biologics in ongoing trade negotiations. Working together, Japan and the United States can lead in forging a TPP agreement that archives full potential to advance innovation, create and sustain jobs, and drive economic growth.