Introducing our new Trade and IP Project
By: Fredrik Erixon
Subjects: Trade and IP
Intellectual Property (IP) is all around us. But in a fast evolving world, European businesses are faced with new questions regarding innovation. They are trying to understand how the relevance of IP changes for them and to what extent and how IP matters in their sectors and for their companies. To address these questions, ECIPE has launched its new Trade and IP project.
The main focus of this project is to examine the economic and broader societal value of IP for the EU and its Member States. The cornerstone of our Trade and IP Project is our recently published study on “The Benefits of Intellectual Property Rights in EU Free Trade Agreements”.
This study brings together two major sources of growth in the modern economy: trade and new ideas. Trade is a crucial process to raise the productivity of economies and create welfare for citizens globally, while considering ever increasing levels of economic specialisation. It is also a channel to diffuse technology and knowledge across countries. International exchange is therefore helping countries to modernise and upgrade their economies.
New ideas are all the innovations, technologies, know-how and business models that gradually power the economy – the intangible assets that define a significant part of modern economic growth. They are the basis for a society’s stock of intellectual property, and that stock increases every time there are investments in research and development, production methodologies, brands, novel product design, business know-how and new artistic creations. Most societies allow for protection of intellectual property because intellectual property is necessary for prosperity.
Our mission for this multi-year study was to get a much better and granular understanding of what role intellectual property rights (IPRs) play for trade, productivity and growth, and how trade policies for IPRs have developed over time.
Even by our cautious estimates, the results are very clear: copyrights, geographical indications, patents, trademarks and other intellectual property rights support trade and value added in Europe, and stronger IPR provisions in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) increase the payoff even more.
These results are novel. It has been known for a long time that trade agreements boost trade and economic growth. It is much less known that IPRs are a crucial part for the successes of trade policy. IPR policy is routinely neglected in policy discussions over trade. In Europe, IPRs tend to rank low when EU Member States make priorities about what outcomes the EU should seek from trade negotiations. This is a problem, and it is not just about neglect or low political priorities and motivation. The problem goes deeper and concerns a problem with information. It is notoriously difficult to estimate the value of IPRs and few Member States have a clear understanding about how much they depend on intellectual property and its protection for their prosperity and international competitiveness.
This study is a first step to rectify this problem. It presents results for all EU Member States and a selection of non-EU countries. These results are extraordinarily enlightening and, for some countries, very surprising. The key takeaway point for many governments is that it is high time to take a much deeper interest in IPRs when they consider their trade policies.
We are grateful to a great number of economists, policymakers and experts that have shared their knowledge with us – including officials from the European Commission, the EU Intellectual Property Office, OECD, and several EU Member States.
Over the next few months we will be unpacking the findings of this study through a series of activities that include events, podcasts and blogs. We will be focusing on several exciting topics, which will, among others, include:
- IP and the EU Industrial Policy as well as the global competitiveness of EU industry.
- What are the benefits of strong IP in EU FTAs for Member States?
- IP and the EU Green Deal – a top EU policy priority.
- The EU IP framework and its importance for pharmaceutical innovation, biotech and healthcare, especially in a highly competitive post-COVID world.
- The importance of IP for European SMEs.
- How can IP best help to protect Europe from counterfeit products in the future?
- How can IP help to combat biodiversity loss due to trade? And how can IP contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs)?
- And finally, how important is IP for services?
We invite you to join the discussion on social media using #IPinEUFTAs and bookmarking our Trade and IP Project webpage to capture all future updates.