On his first day in office, President Trump followed through on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the goal of preventing jobs from being outsourced overseas. “We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country, and it’s going to be reversed,” said Trump to union leaders at a White House meeting after the official withdrawal.
Though it was never ratified by Congress, the Obama administration worked with 11 other signatory countries for more than two years to shape the massive free trade deal, which aimed to eventually unite the 12 Pacific Rim countries (including the US) in an EU-like single market – a market which Trump says would have hurt American workers and undercut American companies due to the influx of cheap labor available tariff-free from other countries in the pact.
On the other hand, American innovators would have greatly benefited from the significant increases in protection that the TPP offered for patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. In fact, some have argued that the primary beneficiaries of the TPP would have been holders of intellectual property rights and that the benefits to everyone else were unclear.
Now that U.S. participation is off the table, the other TPP countries will have to decide whether to move forward without it. Australia and New Zealand said they hope to salvage the deal by bringing on new partners like China and other countries in Asia. “Losing the United States from the TPP is a big loss, there is no question about that. But we are not about to walk away,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said to reporters on Tuesday (Jan. 24).
The big question now for IP is what will happen next, and how will intellectual property rights be effected by the various new bilateral trade agreements that the Trump administration plans to pursue in place of the TPP? To read more about this and other TPP intellectual property issues, check out our recent article in IP Watchdog.