The Senate and House conference committee on H.R. 644 reached a final agreement last week. The new bill, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, will authorize the US Customs and Border Protection to strengthen trade enforcement at the border.
“Trade agreements are very complex documents with a number of provisions that need to be enforced. This bill will give the USTR additional powers to work on the enforcement of the agreements,” Mark Grayson, Deputy Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs PhRMA, told this publication.
“This is important to not only the pharmaceutical industry but all industries involved in trade.”
The bill’s provisions include the appointment of a Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator in charge of trade negotiations and enforcing trade agreements as they pertain to US intellectual property.
According to the bill, the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator – who will be appointed by the president – will “take appropriate actions to address acts, policies, and practices of foreign governments that have a significant adverse impact on the value of United States innovation.”
A National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center will also be established to help identify merchandise that “infringes intellectual property rights.”
“[The legislation] promotes legitimate trade facilitation and works to preserve one of America’s most important economic assets: intellectual property, helping to prevent counterfeit and illicit goods from entering our nation,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
For the pharmaceutical industry, the provisions will specifically help protect against counterfeit medications.
“By replacing inefficiency with innovation, this bill will make it easier for Americans to compete and win in marketplaces around the world. In addition, strong enforcement provisions will also level the playing field and help ensure that other countries follow the same rules,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).
According to Brady, the agreement is one of many steps to be taken in order to help all Americans “prosper and succeed.”
“Congress is now on the verge of passing the strongest package of trade enforcement policies in decades.”