trans-pacific partnership

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement currently under negotiation will secure a trade alliance between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. These countries have a combined economy (GDP) of over $27 trillion, comprising nearly 35 percent of global GDP and about one third of global trade.

This ambitious, next-generation trade agreement will be Canada's first foothold into prosperous Asian markets and will provide an opportunity for Canada to address outstanding issues with its two NAFTA partners. To date, the WTO has been the most significant and promising forum for multilateral trade liberalization, but negotiations have stalled and they are not likely to pick up momentum in the near future. As such, TPP membership is likely to broaden to include other countries seeking to liberalize trade relationships, such as the Philippines and South Korea. The prospect of China joining the negotiations in the short term is uncertain, but the country?s expression of interest underscores why the TPP is important: it has the potential to expand to include all Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries. For countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the main draw of the TPP is preferential access to the United States. The United States' commitment to the TPP as the centrepiece of its foreign trade strategy means that these negotiations may avoid becoming mired in politics and yield a finished agreement within five years.

Stronger intellectual property for pharmaceuticals would benefit Canadians

Canada’s lagging intellectual property (IP) protections for pharmaceutical innovators are a key issue to be settled in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations with the European Union. They may also play a role in upcoming negotiations for the multi-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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Canada is in the midst of negotiations over the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, and the multi-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A key issue to be settled in these negotiations is intellectual property (IP) protection for pharmaceutical innovation. Canada faces pressure to enhance IP protection so that it more closely aligns with protection that prevails in Europe and the United States, among other nations.

The pressure for Canada to enhance IP protection comes on three fronts. The first is patent term restoration (that is, restoring patent time lost to mandatory regulatory delays). The second is on a right of appeal for patent holders (in other words, allowing patent holders in Canada the right to appeal court rulings that invalidate their patent). And the third is extended data exclusivity, the time during which generic manufacturers are not permitted to use innovator data for drug approvals.

A central question for Canada in these negotiations is whether the increased cost of medicines that would result from enhanced IP protection are outweighed by potential economic benefits, such as additional economic activity in the innovative pharmaceutical sector in Canada and those generated by free trade agreements. The two essays in this series seek to answer that question by examining potential gains from trade as well as additional economic benefits that would result from stronger intellectual property protection in Canada.

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