U.S. Trade Representative To Intensify Efforts in Asia

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - Intellectual property rights, pharmaceuticals and medical technology issues will receive more attention thanks to changes recently instituted by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab.

In a September 6 press release, Schwab emphasized, “Innovation is the lifeblood of American industry and promoting innovation is a key element in the President’s competitiveness agenda.”

To this end, Schwab announced that the recently established Office of Intellectual Property would have expanded responsibilities and a new name - the Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation.  Its new duties will include innovation policy issues related to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries. (See related article.)

Previously, the Office of Southeast Asia and the Pacific had handled these issues.  But with the reorganization, that office will be better able to focus its resources on deepening trade relations with Asia - a top priority, according to the USTR press release.

Currently, that office is negotiating free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Thailand and Malaysia, and it recently concluded a trade and investment framework arrangement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). (See related article.)

The member countries of ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

For more on U.S. policy, see Trade and Economics and East Asia and the Pacific.

The full text of the press release on the USTR's reorganization is available on the office's Web site.