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No Time for Tinkering: How a “More Progressive” NAFTA Could Break the Vicious Circle of Global Inequities in the Ownership of Knowledge
NAFTA 2.0 and Intellectual Property Rights: Insights on Developing Canada's Knowledge Economy--Special Report, Centre for International Governance Innovation (2017)
  • Ariel Katz, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law
Abstract
This essay, part of a collection of essays commissioned by the International Law Research Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), discusses what Canada’s approach to intellectual property in the context of the renegotiation of NAFTA should be. 

Pursuing a “progressive trade” agenda, Canada’s Liberal government approach to international trade comprises two pillars: one, commitment to the postwar international trading order, which reflected the assumption that reducing various state imposed restrictions on trade, and promoting free and competitive markets, would be mutually beneficial to trading nations and to the world as a whole. Two, recognition that continued growth, as well as the political stability it requires, depends on domestic measures that share the wealth and assure working people and the middle class that the globalized system can help them better their lives.

While the extension of intellectual property (IP) rights through international trade agreements has not historically been a banner issue for advocates of a progressive trade
agenda, the essay argues that it warrants attention.

The evidence from most reliable studies currently available fails to provide support to the claim that the expansion of IP has contributed to greater innovation, productivity or growth. Moreover, some signs indicate that the expansion of IP has already contributed to global economic stagnation, accelerated inequality and depressed wages, and that it already hampers governments’ ability to implement measures for countering those trends.

To this end, instead of tinkering at the margins of US proposals, when it comes to IP, Canada should adopt a bold and principled approach based on the following three principles: 
- a moratorium on any further expansion of IP via trade agreements; 
- reorienting the global conversation of IP to the multilateral frameworks of the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization; and 
- initiating a review of the current international IP frameworks with an eye toward scaling back some of its unnecessary and counterproductive aspects.

The full report by CIGI can be downloaded here: https://www.cigionline.org/publications/nafta-20-and-intellectual-property-rights-insights-developing-canadas-knowledge 
Keywords
  • NAFTA,
  • Intellectual property,
  • Canada,
  • International trade
Publication Date
September 26, 2017
Citation Information
Ariel Katz. "No Time for Tinkering: How a “More Progressive” NAFTA Could Break the Vicious Circle of Global Inequities in the Ownership of Knowledge" NAFTA 2.0 and Intellectual Property Rights: Insights on Developing Canada's Knowledge Economy--Special Report, Centre for International Governance Innovation (2017)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ariel_katz/38/