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Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk at the Global Intellectual Property Center Annual Summit

September 30, 2009
Global Intellectual Property Center Annual Summit
Washington, DC

*As Prepared for Delivery*

 

Thank you all for having me here today. In particular, thanks to your President and Vice-President, David Hirschmann and Mark Esper, and to Rob Calia for putting this event together.

In 1921, Albert Einstein came to the United States. His first visit to America was filled with excitement. He rode a wave of fame from New York to Washington. And when he returned home to Germany, he put his recollections into an essay.

Here's one line that he wrote: "What first strikes the visitor with amazement is the superiority of this country in matters of technology and organization."

Einstein appreciated the high quality of American goods and the constant innovation of American industry. And it's almost assured that as a former patent officer he also appreciated the importance of intellectual property protections on those goods.

As United States Trade Representative, I can tell you that without question, those safeguards have made Americans more innovative and more creative.

How is that? Just look at American manufacturing.

America is the single largest producer of manufactured goods. We've held on to that distinction because individual companies know that when they innovate to meet the needs of a changing world, they will have the right to their innovations and they will reap the benefits of their research and development. In the 21st century, American innovators are building on the manufacturing skills and technical expertise that made America a leader in the 20th.

And USTR is cultivating new jobs and economic growth here at home by helping those entrepreneurs to market their innovations abroad. Our work is two-fold. First, we are opening new markets so that they can sell their goods and services in more places around the world. Second, we are working with our trading partners to ensure adequate and effective intellectual property safeguards wherever American goods and services are sold.

The two go hand in hand. Intellectual property protection and enforcement not only ensure that the rewards of creativity and invention go to the inventor - they also guarantee America's edge in the global market. To maintain a strong and growing economy - with good jobs, good wages, and a solid future - we must succeed in the global market.

The numbers make the argument for me: Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers live outside America. For Americans to prosper, America needs to sell our goods, services, and intellectual property to those customers. It's that simple.

I'm going to talk about how we can make that happen. But first, I want to make something very clear: trade does not take place in a vacuum.

For instance - to ensure that America's companies and workers can truly take advantage of trade, we must reform America's health insurance system. That is a trade priority. American businesses and workers can't take full advantage of job-creating trade opportunities as long as our health care system drains their resources.

The bottom line is: no family should lose their home and no business should go broke because someone gets sick in America. As President Obama has said, this isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue - it's a moral issue. The time for bickering is over. Now it's time to act. President Obama's health insurance reform plan addresses three simple goals: If you have health insurance, it will give you more security and stability. If you don't have insurance it will give you quality, affordable options. And it will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government. To find out more about President Obama's plan for health care reform, I encourage you to visit healthreform.gov.

As we work to overhaul the health care system, innovators can help us succeed by finding new ways to streamline health records, new medicines and devices to treat disease, and new ideas to help us confront growing health care demands. Reform of the health care system will ensure those innovations have the greatest possible impact.

We need to focus our innovative energies on developing solutions to meet the growing needs of the world's population - from wellness to food to energy - and to develop new ways to meet those demands. If we do so, we can create a more sustainable world, a more prosperous economy, and a better quality of life for the American people.

We need a trade policy that contributes to and reinforces goals in areas like health care and the environment. We must find ways to work together on issues like access to medicines and climate change.

Last year Chairman Baucus at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee asked the CEO of Pfizer and the late Prof. John Barton of Stanford University to begin a process of trying to find common ground among different viewpoints on access to medicines. Sadly Prof. Barton recently passed away, depriving America of a thoughtful voice in the discussion. But we should not let his passing end the effort to build bridges. On the contrary, we should continue and seek to broaden the constructive conversation Professor Barton helped to start. I offer my support to both the public health community and the public health industry to help carry that effort forward.

At the same time, USTR is moving forward with an ambitious trade agenda. We are seeking trade opportunities that reflect our values on the rights of workers and the environment, and we have embarked on a strong enforcement strategy. Through freer, fairer trade, we can tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

Here's how: we will tap new consumers abroad and ensure that American companies have access to them. We will help U.S. companies set their sights on new and emerging markets. We will pursue a fair shake for American workers under current deals and fair treatment in new agreements. And we will make it easier for Americans to market and sell the products of their innovation and creativity abroad.

Already, our work has opened up new avenues of trade. Today, I'm pleased to announce that we appear to have overcome a long-standing trade issue with The Bahamas that will provide legal protection against unauthorized broadcasts of American programming. We have been told by the government of the Bahamas that as of tomorrow, a new law will go into effect that will provide the legal tools necessary to ensure that legitimate American companies don't have to compete with unauthorized transmissions of their own shows to the Caribbean audience. If this commitment is properly implemented it means that literally overnight, American cable companies will have a new export market for their shows. This is a small example, in a small market, but it illustrates how ensuring respect for intellectual property and implementing trade commitments can actually create markets for U.S. creativity- and innovation-intensive industries.

We are committed to creating similar opportunities with our larger trading partners as well as our smaller ones. We will do this through tools like the Special 301 process, which over its 20 year life has evolved into a year-round process of engagement, not just a once-a-year report card.

Today we are starting the five out-of-cycle Special 301 reviews announced in April. We are committed to using the Special 301 process to highlight the need for reforms to address new challenges like Internet piracy, as we did this year with Canada, and also using the process to recognize meaningful progress, as we did this year with Korea.

We are committed to robust and results-oriented dialogues to make progress on IP issues. Next month alone, we will hold in-depth trade policy dialogues with China and India. We will advance the cause of intellectual property rights for America's innovative and creative industries.

Every economy stands to benefit when partners play by trade rules. And the rules on intellectual property are clear: pirates and copycats are not to be tolerated. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But we're not talking about flattery. We're talking about theft. And that theft doesn't just hurt American creators and inventors. It can also harm the unwitting consumers of potentially harmful counterfeit goods.

Others should be as interested in protecting their creators, innovators, and consumers as Americans are in protecting ours. So, we are working together with key partners to forge an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by 2010.

That agreement and other intellectual property safeguards will ensure lawful access for more consumers in more countries to original, high-quality American products, rather than counterfeit or pirated black-market goods.

In addition to protecting intellectual property rights, putting legitimate products in the hands of global consumers can return dollars to their rightful earners - US companies and their workers. This is one way that trade, and trade enforcement, can be a pillar of economic recovery.

The global economic crisis has created new challenges for trade. But we have resisted the urge to turn inward, and we will continue to guard against new barriers to trade. Because we need a trade policy that opens up opportunities, not one that shuts them down.

To that end, USTR is committed to helping small business owners and first generation companies that are making the leap to international trade. And intellectual property - like an exciting new brand or invention - is the cornerstone of many of those small businesses. Opening new markets around the globe and ensuring those markets provide a climate for trade that incorporates adequate and effective intellectual property protection will make it easier for Americans to prosper through international commerce.

So too will information and programs to help small business owners understand the potential for their companies and employees in the global marketplace. USTR is working with the Small Business Association, the Commerce Department, and across the government to ensure that small business owners and entrepreneurs have the tools they need to succeed in the global marketplace. Through the U.S. Commercial Center and local Export Assistance Centers across the country, this administration is making sure that when America's small business owners have questions, they will get answers. USTR has taken on the task of creating and sustaining a trading system in which U.S. innovators flourish. But we want you to help us make that system even better.

USTR is asking American workers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs to be partners in our work. We need more American workers to talk to us through USTR's website, ustr.gov, and export.gov. And we need more businesses to ask the question: how can my company reach new markets and global consumers. We want to help you answer that question. Because we know that if we can help American innovations to reach the global marketplace, and we can safeguard the intellectual property rights on those innovations, you can compete and you can succeed. We look forward to working with you.