NAFTA: Strengthening IP Must Rise as a Key Priority in Negotiations

By at 11 May, 2018, 10:02 am



Entrepreneurs need strong IP standards in NAFTA to compete, raise capital, expand globally

Washington, D.C. – The nation’s leading advocacy group for entrepreneurs and small businesses is urging U.S. leaders re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to immediately focus on strengthening intellectual property (IP) standards, as a modernized pact must include the highest possible standards as outlined under Trade Promotion Authority.  Karen Kerrigan, president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), noted the importance of NAFTA to small and mid-size firms as they are dominant players in trade with Canada and Mexico. She emphasized that inadequate IP protections and enforcement mechanisms must be addressed for small businesses conducting business within these countries, and to enable more entrepreneurs to expand into these markets.

“IP needs to be a priority, not an afterthought, in these NAFTA re-negotiations. We are getting down to the wire in terms of key deadlines for a deal, and this critical area must be addressed to bring NAFTA into the 21st century and fully protect and boost American innovation,” said Kerrigan.

In order for the current Congress to vote on a revised NAFTA agreement, a deal must be reached by May 17.

“A modernized NAFTA must include strong IP standards. Effective IP standards are essential to raising capital, innovation and entrepreneurship. Trade agreements are the perfect platform to prioritize IP rights and protections and to clarify how these will be enforced. Every trade agreement must embed a strong IP chapter, and that includes NAFTA.  Quite frankly, I am surprised that little headway has been made in this critical area given the Administration’s declarations of concern regarding the theft of American IP, and actions taken against China due to this theft. The one sure way to prevent and stem the theft of American IP is to protect it through NAFTA and future trade agreements,” added Kerrigan.

Related Resources:

2018 Policy Agenda for Entrepreneurs and Small Business: Growth via Global Trade and Strengthening IP, January 30, 2018.

Entrepreneurs Celebrate #WorldIPDay: Strong IP Frameworks are Critical to Startups and Small Business Growth, April 26, 2018.

Keating Testifies Before House Small Business Committee: Trade Has Widespread Benefits for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses, Media Release, April 11, 2018.

Keating Testimony Before House Small Business Committee:  The State of Trade and Small Business, April 11, 2018.

Small Business Week and the Global Marketplace, Small Business Insider blog post, May 1, 2018.

SBE Council’s book on IP, Unleashing Small Business Through IP, can be read online for free here.


Karen Kerrigan,,


Raymond Keating, Chief Economist,


SBE Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy, research and education organization that works to protect small business and promote entrepreneurship. For nearly 25 years SBE Council has worked to successfully implement a range of policy and private sector initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem for startups and small business growth. To learn more, visit SBE Council’s website: Follow on Twitter: @SBECouncil



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