Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning and welcome to this inaugural Timor-Leste Trademark Dialogue. On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank the International Trademark Association for hosting this event which includes officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, and the PNTL. I would also like to thank all our private and public sector partners for your ongoing support of intellectual property in Timor-Leste.
According to the Intellectual Property Commission’s 2017 report, an estimated $225 billion is lost in the United States as a result of counterfeit goods, piracy, and theft of trade secrets. Why should you care about American losses here in Timor-Leste? Well, some of the top U.S. industries suffering from competing counterfeit products produce aircraft parts, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to fly in an airplane with counterfeit parts.
But why else should Timor-Leste care about intellectual property rights (IPR)? When we talk about IPR, people often think about the entertainment industry and big-budget movie production. It’s great that we have the Platinum Cineplex right here in Timor Plaza. However, if people can just illegally download films or buy pirated DVDs, the movie theater would likely close and employees would be out of a job. Or what about access to medicine in Timor-Leste? Without intellectual property protection, we may not know if the pharmaceuticals we consume are authentic. This could harm those who we care about the most.
And then, there is the economic impact on the country. If Timor-Leste shows its commitment to protecting IPR, foreign companies would be more likely to invest in Timor-Leste. Companies don’t want to set up shop in a country where their intellectual property is not protected. Furthermore, the value of exports from intellectual property-intensive manufacturing is 3.5 times greater than other exports. If Timor-Leste becomes a leader in IPR protection, it stands to benefit from greater economic growth and higher paying jobs. It is also worth noting that as Timor-Leste looks toward ASEAN accession, it should implement IPR policy that is in line with its ASEAN neighbors.
I hope the discussion we have here today will continue as we work together to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights in Timor-Leste. Thank you so much for coming to this forum.