The agreement would link at least a dozen economies from around the Pacific Rim. A major U.S. goal for the pact is to tighten intellectual property protections, in areas ranging from medicine to high-end manufacturing.
Charlene Barshefsky served as U.S. Trade Representative under President Clinton. She says more than 4 million Texan jobs hinge on such intellectual property.
“The U.S. has to make a decision: How does it push forward its high standards of protection for the people that innovate, that make these kinds of products, as against a range of Asian countries, and even Canada, that provide very low levels of protection? We don’t want our producers to get ripped off in foreign countries. We want, and need to have, a level playing field in those countries.”
The Obama administration has set a goal of finalizing the pact by October of next year. Barshefsky describes the date as ambitious. She says it’s more important that the agreement itself be tough and enforceable.