Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Friday (Nov. 6) expressed doubt that Congress will take up legislation to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the Obama administration and argued that a future Republican administration would negotiate a better deal on intellectual property protections for drugs.
Inside U.S. Trade | November 23, 2015
After delivering an address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 2015 Global IP Summit, Hatch told reporters that “it will be difficult for Congress to take [TPP] up during an election year.” He added that prospects for consideration immediately after the elections were also dim, saying “a lot of people on something this important don't want it passed or rejected by a lame-duck Congress.”
Hatch also said there is “no question” that an administration under a Republican president would get a better deal on the issue of IP protections for biologic drugs, in a sign that he may see holding out as a better strategy.
The chairman, at the same time, said in clearer terms than he has before that he will push the current administration to renegotiate the biologics exclusivity period in TPP -- one of the thorniest IP issues in the talks -- even while voicing doubts that the administration was ever committed to striking a deal reflecting the 12 years in U.S. law.
He further contended that the TPP biologics outcome is only one problem that could erode support for the deal in Congress, citing other unnamed market access issues and the carveout on tobacco control measures from investor-state dispute settlement. He warned that failure to improve the deal could mean that it is never ratified.
“At the end of the day, USTR may need to go back to the negotiating table and try again. It's certainly not unprecedented,” Hatch said in his speech. “I understand that renegotiation can be difficult, but at the end of the day the alternative to renegotiation may be no TPP.”
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