State Department and CREATe.org Roundtable: A Recap

May 8, 2012 | Anti-corruption, Intellectual Property

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The interconnectedness of global commerce, relationship of IP-protection and anti-corruption to economic growth and importance of public/private collaboration were the key topics of discussion at the Safeguarding Intellectual Property and Preventing Corruption in Global Markets Roundtable co-hosted by CREATe.org and the U.S. Department of State.

Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State, Management and Resources, opened the Roundtable with insights into Economic Statecraft, the principles by which the US government engages today with foreign partners. In short, diplomatic engagements should also focus on ways to benefit the economy. Towards that end, he emphasized that protection of intellectual property is a top priority and important for driving economic growth. He also reiterated the importance of government working with industry on ‘complementary and collaborative’ efforts, such as the roundtable and the recent Global Business Conference.

Nides’ comments were echoed by Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and co-lead on the recent report, Intellectual Property and the US Economy. She discussed how there was no ‘silver bullet’ on the issue of IP protection, and while a priority for the White House and Federal agencies, we needed to continue to look at new ways of addressing the challenges, including voluntary industry-led efforts.

CREATe.org’s Pamela Passman shared insights into the organization’s discussions with multinational corporations (MNCs) in the US, Europe and Asia. Common themes included challenges around counterfeit and pirated products, the misappropriation of trade secrets, and the prevalence of corruption. She also shared highlights from CREATe’s recently launched Trade Secrets report, and finished with an overview of the tools and services CREATe is developing to help MNCs improve compliance.

Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations led a roundtable discussion with insights from academics, multinational corporations and government officials. A few highlights:

Daniel Kaufman, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute, discussed the issue of corruption and shared research on how inequality and corruption are linked; how when companies engage in bribery it increases costs and a regulatory burden; and be believes there is hope for new approaches to addressing corruption through collective action.

Alan Larson, Chair of Transparency International-USA (and a member of CREATe’s Advisory Council) emphasized that it’s important to look at IP protection and anti-corruption holistically, to develop partnerships and other vehicles to address the issues, including bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Several MNCs shared experiences, from mandating ‘zero tolerance’ policies in dealing with bad actors to creating end-to-end supply chain solutions and working closely with local authorities.

Academics Richard Locke and Keith Maskus (and members of CREATe’s Advisory Council) discussed factors for building a culture of compliance and the positive effects of reform on driving innovation in emerging economies.

Several Federal agency representatives also shared statistics and stories about increased enforcement and programs to counter counterfeit goods.

Final remarks came from Jose Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of State, Economic and Business Affairs. He emphasized how the government is looking for ways to help US companies have a ‘level playing field’ when competing overseas. He also reiterated the importance of private initiatives complementing diplomatic efforts.

You can read more in Jose Fernandez' post on the DIPNote blog.

CREATe.org would like to thank the 65 individuals who attended the Roundtable event – it was wonderful to gain insights from senior executives in multinational corporations, government, academia and non-governmental organizations. We would also like to extend our deepest thanks to the team at the Department of State, including Jean Bonilla, Clinton Gardiner and Ann Low.