Policy and Legal

Policy and Legal

The NAM Talks Democracy, IP and Trade in Geneva

On the first two days of the NAM’s Competing to Win Tour in Europe, Timmons took part in “frank and engaging” discussions with global leaders in Geneva. The conversations focused on reinforcing transatlantic partnerships, bolstering democracy, addressing trade challenges and emphasizing the crucial role manufacturers play in promoting global stability.

The details: Timmons met with influential figures including WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein Scott Miller and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Geneva David Bisbee.

  • NAM representatives also participated in an event on intellectual property co-hosted by the NAM and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

The substance: In the meetings, Timmons delved into the negative impact of the WTO/TRIPS waiver expansion, the need to restore the WTO dispute settlement system’s functionality and the crucial role of manufacturers in supporting democracies and global institutions.

  • ‘“Frank & engaging discussion w/ @JayTimmonsNAM CEO of the US National Association of Manufacturers & his delegation. Focused on geopolitical tensions & impact of @wto, challenges w/ the TRIPS waiver extension to therapeutics & diagnostics, dispute settlement system & road to #MC13 [the WTO’s next ministerial conference in early 2024],” tweeted Okonjo-Iweala following the meeting.

Speech in brief: At the IFPMA event, first covered by Politico, Timmons stressed the significance of IP protections in driving innovation and developing new treatments, reinforcing the NAM’s opposition to an expansion of the TRIPS waiver to cover diagnostics and therapeutics. Attendees included Geneva-based government delegations, the WTO secretariat and NAM member companies.

  • “In America, our industry works to advance the values of free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity—the values that keep our industry strong,” said Timmons. “But increasingly, we find these values, which so many of us share, under attack—in particular from authoritarian regimes that have little regard for free markets and little respect for an individual’s right to determine their own destiny. That’s why our transatlantic relationship matters more than at any time in recent memory.”
  • “[O]ne of the most important ingredients for innovation is how a country protects intellectual property. IP enshrines the understanding that years or even decades of hard work and sleepless nights, millions and millions of dollars and so much more will be rewarded,” he continued.
  • “Expanding this [WTO/TRIPS waiver of IP] would set a precedent that would spiral across the manufacturing sector,” he concluded. “Some voices—here in Geneva and around the world—are already expressing desires to implement similar waivers for renewable and green energy technologies, or to automatically trigger an IP waiver for any future pandemic. If we don’t draw the line now, the outcome is obvious: an anti-innovation domino effect that destroys jobs, livelihoods and lifechanging products.”

The big picture: More than a worldwide center for diplomacy, Switzerland is the seventh largest investor in the U.S. Timmons’s visit comes at a critical inflection point for the country and amid heightened stresses on global institutions, due to COVID-19, Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and competition with China, among other geopolitical challenges.

News coverage: Politico’s Morning Trade newsletter spotlighted Timmons’s trip, while The Wall Street Journal (subscription) quoted him on the importance of new U.S. trade agreements.

Next up: The tour will continue in Frankfurt, Germany, where the NAM will further demonstrate manufacturers’ leadership and the potential for a more robust transatlantic alliance.

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