By Rick Manning
The United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement is an important first step in restructuring the trading system around the world around a capitalist idea — that intellectual and private property is foundational to fair and honest trade between willing partners.
While it may seem fundamental that an agreement not to steal private property and the patented ideas of a trading partner’s citizens would be part of any trade agreement, some Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking to deny this very protection to the pharmaceutical industry, as former President Barack Obama did in his ill-fated and poorly conceived Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Fortunately, President Trump has stood firm in favor of intellectual property for all U.S. innovators in the version of the USMCA which has been approved by both Canada and Mexico. Yet, Democrats are seeking to weaken property protections of cure and medical treatment innovators as part of the cost of House approval of the treaty.
While this might seem like a small thing, as the pharmaceutical companies are a favorite political punching bag until we, or our loved one’s get sick, in which case we are grateful for the advances of the past twenty years that have increased cancer survival rates and brought us closer to cures for evil diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis where treatment advancements are extending both the length and quality of patient’s lives.
Intellectual property protections for those who are dedicating their lives to finding cures are an essential factor in capitalizing research, particularly with recent studies showing that it costs an incredible $1.3 billion to bring a new drug to market.
Yet, rather than focus on factors in the Food and Drug Administration drug approval process which drive costs of bring a new medicine to market up astronomically, Democrats in the House seek to undermine the very intellectual property protections which accelerate medical advances.
If this were a battle in Congress over the lengths of patent rights and patent reform, it would be one thing, but instead it is an attempt to restructure the trade deal which will be the model for future trade deals around the world. Rewriting that deal in a way which makes medical innovation third class citizens in the research and investment world, as those innovations would enjoy less or no protection against theft. For investors, this research is not philanthropy, it is driven by an expectation that there will be a return on investment. Decoupling this profit expectation from medical research will cause private investment dollars to go to other non-medical research where the successful products cannot be stolen. That is just fact and reality.
It is also why it would be dangerous and foolhardy for the President’s trade team to acquiesce on limiting intellectual property protections for any product, because the standard set in USMCA will in very short order become the standard for the world.
Rumors always swirl in Washington, D.C., and the latest non-impeachment rumor is that the President is considering a deal which undermines intellectual property in exchange for the votes on the USMCA. President Trump should just say no to Nancy. Stable, dependable intellectual property laws for all innovators are the key to using USMCA as the cornerstone for building a worldwide capitalist consensus, and any acceptance of theft of one type of intellectual property can only lead to the eventual theft of the rest.
It is as simple as the choice between the free enterprise, capitalist system which promotes private property rights and the communist/government ownership of the means of production system. When it comes to Pelosi’s demands on intellectual property, America is better with no deal, than with one which undermines the fundamental tenets that our nation has been built upon.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government and the co-author of the new book, “Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Culture War, and why this is good for America.”