Biden administration should prioritize innovation in U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade

Last summer, the United States and Taiwan launched the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade to deepen economic and trade relations. In detailed comments to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), PhRMA encouraged the Biden administration to pursue an agreement that is as comprehensive and ambitious as possible to the benefit of both American and Taiwanese citizens. To achieve USTR’s stated objective to promote innovation in both the United States and Taiwan, any eventual agreement should include strong intellectual property (IP) protections, predictable and transparent market access commitments, and other provisions that dismantle unfair trade barriers, strengthen regulatory cooperation and facilitate the manufacturing and distribution of lifesaving medicines.

Formal negotiations between the governments began last November, and the second negotiating round occurred in Taipei on January 14-17. As USTR and other U.S. officials continue to conduct this dialogue, PhRMA recommends that the U.S. and Taiwan focus on incorporating the following measures into the agreement:

  • Transparency in policymaking and good regulatory practices: Similar to some other foreign governments, Taiwan imposes burdensome and nontransparent regulations on the biopharmaceutical sector and employs pricing and reimbursement policies that disadvantage innovative American products. PhRMA members have documented significant concerns with these Taiwanese policies, which lack transparency and due process, fail to appropriately recognize the value of innovative medicines and create barriers to patient access to American-made medicines.

    Negotiations with Taiwan provide an important opportunity to remedy these deficiencies and ensure fair and equitable market access for innovative American medicines. New trade commitments should ensure that stakeholders are afforded meaningful opportunities to provide input to regulators and that regulatory procedures and decisions, including with respect to the approval and reimbursement of medicines, are governed by fair, transparent and verifiable rules guided by science-based decision making. The United States and Taiwan should address these issues by building on similar commitments contained in existing U.S. trade agreements, such as the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. 

  • Creation of a medicines working group: Given the complexity of issues and the variety of trade barriers that can significantly impede the development, manufacturing and distribution of innovative medicines, PhRMA encourages the establishment of a Medicines Working Group that commits the governments to regular, frequent and sustained engagement on issues of importance to biopharmaceutical innovation and access, including implementation of any commitments made under the Initiative on 21st-Century Trade.

PhRMA also encourages the United States and Taiwan to pursue open and digital trade practices, improve customs and trade facilitation policies, and promote robust standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures.

The Initiative on 21st-Century Trade has the potential to deepen the United States’ economic relationship with Taiwan and establish trade rules suited to modern economic challenges. By adopting stronger pro-innovation policies and eliminating trade barriers, policymakers can foster greater collaboration and help workers and patients in both markets.

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