Cotton, Tillis, Colleagues Urge Biden Admin to Reverse Course on Giving Away Medical Technology to China
Washington, D.C. – Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai asking them to reverse the Biden administration’s decision to give U.S. COVID intellectual property to China.
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Todd Young (R-Indiana), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), and Steve Daines (R-Montana) also signed. To view the letter, click here.
“It is not surprising that China, India, and South Africa want to steal our intellectual property and medical technology,” the senators wrote. “What is surprising is that an American president, especially one who claims to be a ‘jobs’ president, would force American companies to give their medical technology and manufacturing processes to foreign adversaries like China. Simply put, the Biden Administration’s support for a TRIPS waiver puts America’s interests last and China’s interests first.”
Text of the letter may be found below.
May 19, 2021
The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo
United States Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
The Honorable Katherine C. Tai
United States Trade Representative
600 17th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20508
Dear Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai:
We write you today regarding President Biden’s disastrous decision to support the waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS agreement in relation to the prevention, containment, or treatment of COVID-19. The waiver, which is not limited to vaccines, will do nothing to end this global pandemic. Instead, it would undermine the extraordinary global response that has achieved historically remarkable results in record time and our nation’s global leadership in the technologies, medicines, and treatments of the future.
Intellectual property rights provide the legal basis for our innovation and creative economy. Simply put, strong intellectual property rights are why the United States leads the world in IP intensive industries like the life sciences, biopharmaceuticals, precision medicine, and diagnostics. As we work to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, this leadership has benefited our country and the world. As you both know, last year America’s innovative biopharmaceutical companies developed life-saving vaccines. These companies spent substantial sums to develop these treatments and, as of this writing, have produced billions of vaccine doses for the world. Their innovation, ingenuity, and commitment to global health is responsible for the dramatic decline in the pandemic we are seeing both in America and across the globe.
Unfortunately, almost immediately after these vaccines were proven to work, China and other countries which regularly steal American intellectual property—like India and South Africa—began urging the World Trade Organization to grant a TRIPS waiver. These nations are falsely claiming that granting such a waiver would speed the development of new vaccine capacity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reason why there are not enough vaccine doses at this time is simple: the supply chain lacks the technological capacity. Vaccine production is a complex technical and logistical process, with limited technical resources (e.g., skilled scientists and technicians at companies). At best, all President Biden’s giveaway to China and India and others will do is foster uncoordinated vaccine nationalism, as countries jump in to try to coerce technology transfer and manufacturing locally. At worst, this action will provide a boost to the Chinese Communist Party’s “vaccine diplomacy” and enable Beijing to undercut American leadership on vaccine distribution throughout the developing world.
It is not surprising that China, India, and South Africa want to steal our intellectual property and medical technology. What is surprising is that an American president, especially one who claims to be a “jobs” president, would force American companies to give their medical technology and manufacturing processes to foreign adversaries like China. Simply put, the Biden Administration’s support for a TRIPS waiver puts America’s interests last and China’s interests first.
Our concerns with the Administration’s decision are serious, and the American people deserve to understand exactly how President Biden reached this conclusion.
Accordingly, and in order to help us better understand this decision to support intellectual property theft and forced technological transfer, we ask that you answer the following questions by no later than June 19, 2021:
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We look forward to your responses and we hope you will advocate a reversal of this disastrous policy to President Biden. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.