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BIO Statement on USTR Special 301 Report

April 29, 2022
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 USTR this week released its 2022 Special 301 Report. BIO, after reviewing the report, released the following statement:

We welcome USTR’s efforts to address IP-related concerns for U.S.-based biotech enterprises in China, especially concerning China’s coercive technology transfer policies, patent prosecution, and patent enforcement obstacles. USTR’s emphasis on monitoring China’s progress in implementing its Phase One Agreement commitments to address these longstanding IP matters is encouraging. 

U.S.-based biotech companies are drivers of economic growth and stability. In addition to spearheading innovation in their respective sectors, they employ over 1.87 million workers within U.S. borders. 

IP-enabled innovations contribute to the robust strength of the U.S. economy and propel the quintessentially American entrepreneurial spirit, which is the hallmark of the biotech sector. They further promote economic development across sectors and foster inclusive and high-paying jobs for American workers. 

Strong and predictable IP systems also cultivate partnerships around the world, enhance knowledge sharing, support the entrepreneurial journey, and ultimately ensure that innovation is resourced and funded appropriately. This ensures technologies with the potential to deliver better care for patients and products for consumers around the world are developed.

The current, unchecked deterioration of IP rights globally has significant medium- and long-term implications for the broader U.S. private sector and, consequently, for our nation’s economic interests.  Absent adequate IP protections, U.S. biotech companies are unable to innovate, invest, and create jobs in the United States. Strengthening the global policy environment for the commercialization of IP-enabled innovations should, therefore, be a priority for this Administration.  

We are nevertheless disappointed with USTR’s decision to include support for waiving critical IP protections in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). This proposed agreement would have profound and negative consequences on the US’s leadership in innovative biotechnology development.  We also point out that this position on the TRIPS Agreement stands in stark, irreconcilable, contrast to many other positions taken by USTR in addressing IP-related concerns in key markets abroad.  

We’ve previously warned that waiving IP rights will not increase access to vaccines globally. We’ve also explained why it would do nothing to address the very real barriers to vaccine access in developing countries, such as vaccine hesitancy and healthcare infrastructure, which are critical to ending this pandemic and future pandemic preparedness. 

Concerningly, waiving IP rights would exacerbate the longstanding IP challenges U.S-based biotech entities face abroad -- and the consumers, patients, and workers these companies support.

BIO encourages the Administration to reconsider its position as it relates to the TRIPS Agreement. We look forward to working with the Administration to ensure U.S.-based biotech entities can continue to innovate and contribute positively to the U.S. economy.

 Read BIO's comments on USTR's 2022 Special 301 Review here.

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