' Luke Barbour | MTTLR

Biologics and the New NAFTA

For over two decades, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been at the center of heated debates over the effects of trade, economic integration, and globalization. However, the trilateral trade agreement, comprising Canada, the United States, and Mexico, may soon be replaced by a new agreement between the three states— the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Announced on October 1, 2018, the new (and more difficult to pronounce) trade agreement still needs to be ratified by each of the three nations before it is officially implemented. In the United States, this will require the signature of the president and the approval of the Senate. Although USMCA does not appear to radically upend trade relations between the three countries, its ratification would usher in a variety of noteworthy changes. For instance, the Canadian trade negotiators made a significant concession in the deal, agreeing that the country would provide 10 years of patent protection for biological pharmaceuticals. Mexico agreed to the same provision in August of this year. Biological pharmaceuticals, more commonly referred to as biologics, are drugs that are manufactured inside of some living system, including plant and animal cells. Biologics thus differ from traditional pharmaceuticals, which are chemically synthesized. Biologics are considered to be innovative forms of medical treatment, and they are oftentimes the only available form of medicine for a variety of different maladies. In the same way patents are important to entrepreneurs engaged in various business activities, patents are needed within the pharmaceutical industry in order to spur research, development, and innovation. However, critics maintain that the patent system in the United States is partially responsible...

Huawei: 21st Century Trojan Horse or Misunderstood Technology Giant?

Although products from companies like Apple and Samsung are nearly ubiquitous in America today, the technology firm most on the minds of U.S. authorities these days is the China-based conglomerate Huawei. Huawei has some unique attributes. The company is the world’s third largest producer of smartphones and the global leader in the telecom equipment market. It maintains that it is employee-owned, and that it has never been asked to conduct Chinese government-endorsed spy campaigns. But despite Huawei’s vehement denials, American officials have expressed concerns that the company could be co-opted by Chinese authorities and used to conduct state-sponsored sabotage and surveillance. Recent acts of the U.S. government are consistent with these concerns. In December 2017, President Trump signed a bill that banned the use of Huawei equipment in American nuclear weapons.  Further, U.S. legislators have pushed to prohibit the government from using Huawei technology at all.  Perhaps most notably, the Justice Department recently brought charges against Huawei and the company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. In its indictment, the Justice Department specifically cited “years long efforts by the Chinese firm to steal American industrial secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation and evade economic sanctions against Iran.” The founder of Huawei (and father of Meng Wanzhou) Ren Zhengfei has referred to the charges against the company and the arrest of his daughter as “politically motivated.” But Huawei threatens not only the political relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, but also relations between the U.S. and some of its traditional allies. America is growing increasingly concerned about the possibility that countries will use Huawei to build their...