Foreign Affairs Committee Joins Congressional Chorus of ACTA Supporters

Apr 15, 2010

As Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Howard Berman has been a dedicated advocate for the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights—a crucial component of our economic growth and jobs creation. Today, Chairman Berman and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk commending his efforts in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations and urging for successful conclusion this year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce thanks the Chairman and Ranking Member for their leadership and steadfast support for the protection of American intellectual property—the hard work, creativity, investment and ingenuity of the American people.

Sent in the midst of the current round of ACTA talks this week in New Zealand, the letter emphasizes the importance of IP to our economic recovery and the millions of jobs that the IP-intensive industries account for. Highlighting the detrimental effects of IP theft—through counterfeiting and piracy—the letter demonstrates the need for a strong and ambitious ACTA, which will strengthen international standards for IP enforcement. Addressing transparency concerns expressed by some who oppose the agreement, Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen invited the Office of USTR to brief the members and staff of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this month to further their transparency efforts. In regards to concerns relating to the internet provisions, the letter stresses that the ACTA must build upon existing international rules and norms, in particular on the TRIPS agreement, and must be consistent with the U.S. laws.

The message in this letter is spot on. Counterfeiting and piracy are nothing but jobs killers, and a robust and comprehensive ACTA has the potential to substantially reduce these illicit activities by improving cooperation among nearly forty trading partners. Given the importance of this agreement to our economy, businesses, workers and consumers, the U.S. Chamber has been supportive of a robust ACTA that it is also consistent with current U.S. laws. The Chamber has also called for greater transparency during these negotiations to ensure that this agreement is not unnecessarily delayed. 

Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen’s support for ACTA and recognition of the critical role that innovation and creativity play in America's economy should be applauded.  Proactive policies that curb IP theft such as ACTA are absolutely necessary to ensure our continued economic recovery by protecting American innovators, consumers, and workers. We hope that Ambassador Kirk and his team will continue to work diligently towards a successful conclusion of a comprehensive ACTA this year.

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