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USMCA Is a Missed Opportunity to Create Positive Framework for Leading Sector of 21st Century American Economy

"The agreement gets it right on agricultural innovation, but by bowing to domestic politics, it falls far short when it comes to ensuring that America’s biopharmaceutical scientists and researchers remain the leaders in the development of innovative new cures and treatments."

December 19, 2019
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Author-Profile-Andrew-Segerman

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) released the following statement in response to House passage of the revised USMCA:

“The revised USMCA was a huge missed opportunity to create a positive framework for a dynamic and leading sector of the 21st century American economy. As we negotiate trade agreements, we should be creating strong foundations for the vibrant and vital industries of the future. And there is no industry more central to that future than biotechnology. The agreement gets it right on agricultural innovation, but by bowing to domestic politics, it falls far short when it comes to ensuring that America’s biopharmaceutical scientists and researchers remain the leaders in the development of innovative new cures and treatments.

“One of the top priorities of President Trump has been to end foreign free riding on American innovation, ideas and ingenuity. In caving to politics, the Administration and Speaker Pelosi negotiated away one of the most important tools to end this behavior by eliminating enhanced intellectual property standards for American biopharmaceutical breakthroughs.

“The goal of any trade agreement should be to raise the standards of our trading partners to meet those of the United States. By scrapping the biologics provisions, this agreement fails to achieve this central principle of negotiations.   Even more disturbing is the fact that Canada and Mexico had actually agreed to these stronger provisions in the original agreement, only to have them rejected by our own government.

“For this reason, the USMCA should not be a model for future trade agreements when it comes to protecting medical innovation. Indeed, as we look ahead to future trade agreements with countries like China, the need for enhanced intellectual property protections for American biomedical innovation will be even more essential. 

“While USMCA failed to promote biopharmaceutical innovation and to protect good American jobs, it made progress on agricultural biotechnology. The agreement establishes requirements for the three countries to have clear and predictable regulatory regimes for ag-biotech, including new technologies, such as gene editing. The agreement also establishes processes to limit the potential for trade disruption in situations when a country has yet to approve an agricultural biotech product. 

“This is the first international agreement to specifically address agricultural innovation and trade in biotech products. Including these provisions will help strengthen the bioeconomy and encourage swifter commercialization and adoption of the very tools that will help protect our planet, mitigate climate change and transform the food system.”

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