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ITA: In Brussels, Assistant Secretary Camuñez Promotes Intellectual Property Rights and Protections

Seated beside Assistant Secretary Camuñez is Marielle Gallo, a Member of the European Parliament representing France.

Guest blog post by Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, International Trade Administration

This past week, I traveled to Europe as part of my ongoing efforts to deepen the already-robust trans-Atlantic trade relationship. One of my stops was in Brussels, Belgium, the home of the European Commission and heart of the European Union. There, I sat down with EU leaders to discuss ways in which the U.S. and Europe can work together to foster greater economic opportunity and growth on both sides of the Atlantic. I was honored to join a lunch with the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, and other EU leaders, where I offered them my perspective on the importance of the protection of intellectual property rights to our shared prosperity.

I also participated in a panel discussion on intellectual property rights (IPR) and growth at the 10th Annual European Business Summit, an issue vital to fostering innovation. My participation in the Business Summit was timely. For the past several weeks, IPR policies have been hotly debated across the European Union. The question at the forefront of this debate is: how does one protect and enforce IPR, while at the same time creating an environment that will foster the continued growth of the digital economy?

My remarks offered me an opportunity to talk about the perspective that I bring as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance. My role has given me some insight into the global competition to transform industrial, carbon-based economies into 21st-century knowledge-based economies–to attract and keep talent, to intensify the pace of innovation and commercialization of innovative products and services, and how to gain and keep our competitive edge.We all understand the benefits of a knowledge economy–higher wages, higher growth, a greater ability to address the needs and desires of the global population–basically, overall increased prosperity and quality of life. From the U.S. perspective, robust protection and enforcement of IPR is a key building block for creating and growing that knowledge economy that we all want.
This is not just an unfounded assertion–we have data to support it. On April 11, the Department of Commerce published a report titled, Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus (PDF). This report is unique in that it relies entirely on government-generated data to address criticisms regarding the private sector-generated data utilized in past studies.

The report has several important findings:

  • IP-intensive industries contribute 34.8 percent or $5.06 trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP);
  • 40 million American jobs, or 27.7 percent of all jobs, were directly or indirectly attributable to the most IP-intensive industries;
  • From 2010 to 2011, U.S. economic recovery saw a 1.6 percent increase in direct employment in IP-intensive industries, compared to 1.0 percent growth in other industries; and 
  • Merchandise exports of IP-intensive industries totaled $775 billion in 2010, accounting for 60.7 percent of total merchandise exports.

During my time in Brussels, I urged European policymakers, legislators and companies to support policies and programs that promote innovation and economic growth, while preserving consumer choice, safety and freedoms. I also urged them to take a fact-based, long-range view, and act to preserve the incentives for innovation that a robust IPR system offers, while working to address the legitimate concerns of the public.

The United States and Europe share one of the most dynamic economic relationships in the world. Innovation is at the heart of our shared prosperity, and robust protection of IPR is the cornerstone of that innovation. A shared commitment to vigorously defend and protect intellectual property throughout the world is an essential component of our trans-Atlantic trade relationship, and one I was pleased to advance in my brief visit to Brussels.

To learn more about U.S. Government programs and resources to aid U.S. exporters efforts to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights, please visit

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