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US trade office calls for comments on transatlantic trade deal

Intellectual Property Watch | 4 April 2013

US trade office calls for comments on transatlantic trade deal

By Rachel Marusak Hermann for Intellectual Property Watch

Another step toward launching negotiations on a European Union-United States trade agreement has been made as the Office of the US Trade Representative filed a request for comments on the deal and announced a forthcoming public hearing.

In what would be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement between the EU and US is progressing on both sides of the Atlantic as governments do their legal due diligence before opening negotiations. Most recently, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) published a request for public comments on US interests and priorities, a requirement under the 1974 Trade Act.

Interested parties in the US have until 10 May to provide their written comments or request to make a statement during a public hearing, which will be held 29-30 May. The request invites comments on a range of topics including “relevant trade-related intellectual property rights issues that should be raised with the EU”.

IP matters will certainly be a key element of a future arrangement as noted in the US-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG) Report, which recommended that a comprehensive agreement could boost economic growth for trade partners. According to the report, both sides are “committed to maintaining and promoting a high level of intellectual property protection, including enforcement” and would “enhance” their work on these issues.

Public health advocates have already raised concerns about the potential impact of an EU-US free trade agreement on issues such as biomedical research and new medicines, as reported by Intellectual Property Watch here.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commission also has made progress on the deal, requesting the go-ahead from member states on 12 March and releasing an impact assessment on future trade relations and a study on the potential effects of the EU-US TTIP.

 source: IP Watch