The Benefits of Intellectual Property Rights in EU Free Trade Agreements

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Publication Date January 2022
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Our mission for this multi-year study was to get a much better and granular understanding of what role that intellectual property rights (IPRs) play for trade, productivity and growth, and how trade policies for IPRs have developed over time. Even by our cautious estimates, the results are very clear: copyrights, geographical indications, patents, trademarks and other intellectual property rights support trade and value added in Europe, and stronger IPR provisions in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) increase the payoff even more.

These results are novel. It has been known for a long time that trade agreements boost trade and economic growth. It is much less known that IPRs are a crucial part for the successes of trade policy. IPR policy is routinely neglected in policy discussions over trade. In Europe, IPRs tend to rank low when Member States make priorities about what outcomes the EU should seek from trade negotiations. This is a problem, and it is not just about intentional neglect and low motivation. The problem goes deeper and concerns a problem with information. It is notoriously difficult to estimate the value of IPRs and few Member States have a clear understanding about how much they depend on intellectual property and its protection for their prosperity and international competitiveness.

This study is a first step to rectify this problem. It presents results for all EU Member States and a selection of non-EU countries. These results are extraordinarily enlightening and, for some countries, very surprising. The key takeaway point for many governments is that it is high time to take a much deeper interest in IPRs when they consider their trade policies.

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