As an Arizonan, when you hear about trade agreements, you might not automatically think about jobs in the great Copper State. However, as the most populous landlocked state in the U.S., we should. Trade is a huge driver of our economy, not only as a nation, but also of our state economies.
The latest round of free trade negotiations are going on now, just two states away in Dallas. These negotiations, dubbed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involve a multilateral partnership between the United States and eight Asia-Pacific trading partners, with the purpose of liberalizing trade and investment to address new and traditional trade issues.
Along with the United States, the eight trading partners are: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has many aspects, but among the most important should be protecting intellectual property (IP) of American companies.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, more than 40 million American jobs rely on the protection of intellectual property. The recent trade agreement between the U.S. and Korea set a gold standard for protection of America’s innovations and creations. I advocate today that the Trans-Pacific Partnership include the same protections.
As a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s International Relations Task Force, I find the current TPP negotiations paramount in helping to revitalize our economy at a time when the unemployment in Arizona is 8.6 percent. When signed by leaders, this partnership will set gold standard IP rules for global markets that will protect and create new jobs while also protecting consumers from counterfeit and pirated products and the risk of copyright infringement. These IP rules are critical in building market-based incentives for innovation and creativity.
So what’s at stake? Arizona’s innovative economy strongly depends on the protection of intellectual property. IP is a proven driver of jobs, economic growth and competitiveness for our inventors, creators, scientists and artists. A leader in the business community and renowned job creator, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a comprehensive state study conducted by the Global Intellectual Property Center, which showed that intellectual property supports 33 percent of Arizona’s private sector jobs. This comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s report released in April indicating that IP-intensive jobs account for more than $5 trillion to the total U.S. GDP — that represents 34.8 percent of total GDP. It should be noted that these IP-intensive companies pay wages that are 41 percent higher than non-IP companies.
As a state senator, I led the way on the state level to protect American Intellectual property when we passed SB1038 in 2008 (A.R.S. 13-3705 and 44-1453). It increased the penalties for pirating movies and music, but most-importantly, it outlawed using pirated components in electronic devices. In the future, I hope to take a more-active role in promoting American interests abroad. For now, I encourage the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to make protecting America’s asset — intellectual property — a high priority in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
In the world that continues to grow and expand, we must protect America’s creative and innovative spirit that has provided for so many jobs for so many of us here in Arizona.
— Rep. Jack Harper of Surprise represents District 4 in the Arizona Legislature. He can be reached at (602) 926-4178 or [email protected]