Talks resume later this week on an international free trade agreement which a key American diplomat says could be vital to maintaining and creating jobs in Nebraska.
In an interview with the Nebraska Radio Network, Ambassador and former U-S Trade Representative Charlene Barchefsky says the Trans-Pacific Partnership would protect what’s known as intellectual property in a host of industries, including IT and biotechnology. The talks began in 2009.
Barchefsky says, “It’s a very complicated agreement among 11 countries, principally, the U.S. and a number of Asian countries, so one would expect this will take time, given different cultures, different economic priorities.”
The trade agreement includes the U-S, Canada and Mexico, along with Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Brunei, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Barchefsky says Nebraska’s exports to the Asia-Pacific nations in 2009 exceeded $4.6-billion.
She says more than 1,200 companies in Nebraska exported to the world market in 2009. The state’s top exports range from processed foods and crops to machinery and transportation equipment, as well as chemicals and computers.
We’re already three years into the trade talks. When will there be an agreement?
“My view on trade agreements, having negotiated so many hundreds of them, is there ought to be no deadline other than the point at which you get the agreement you want,” she says. “For the U.S. especially, that means an agreement that protects U.S. intellectual property.”
Barchefsky, who was the chief trade negotiator and principal trade policymaker for the United States from 1997 to 2001, says international corporate giants in the tech world, like Apple or Google, often started with just two or three people and an idea that’s nurtured and is allowed to grow.
“The U.S. laws provide great protections for innovators in these areas, in the case of biologic medicines, 12 years of protection,” she says. “The U.S. needs to get that kind of protection all around the world to make sure folks aren’t free-riding on our research and development and our hard work in these areas.”
While the multi-nation trade agreement has been in negotiations for several years, off and on, Barchesky says it could have a significant impact at the state level.
The trade talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership are returning to the U.S., resuming on Thursday in Virginia.