Spring 2015 Issue
AIM 2015: Ann Low. Copyright © CFI.co.
These agreements increase predictability and accountability for all parties involved by defining government responsibilities, increasing market access, removing barriers to trade and investment, and providing well-defined processes for resolving disputes. Open, transparent, wellregulated and non-discriminatory environments for trade and investment create synergies between governments and businesses, where governments implement good policies and businesses create jobs, spur innovation, and efficiently allocate resources in response to market conditions. Consumers in these markets enjoy ever larger selections of higher quality, lower cost products, and are inspired to create new products and services – reinforcing this synergistic relationship, and providing a sound basis for sustainable development. A government can signal its commitment to intellectual property protection through transparent registration processes, robust legal protection, and effective enforcement. First, a government can create a transparent, credible, and efficient process for granting patent, trademark, and copyright protection. It can offer a fee structure with lower charges for individuals and small companies. Bringing an innovative idea or product to the marketplace requires substantial investments of time, labour, and money in research, product development, and marketing. If others can steal an idea, undermining the creator’s ability to recoup the cost of his or her
innovative investment, the incentive to create is reduced. Second, a government can establish a legal framework to efficiently prosecute IP violations and dispose of counterfeit products. Third, a government can invest in computer systems, Internet access, and training that enable its customs officials to identify and stop counterfeit products at its borders. Talent travels, so governments that wish to keep their most creative, entrepreneurial citizens at home must invest in the governance infrastructure that will nurture those individuals’ talents and allow them to benefit from their work. A government can signal its commitment to business facilitation by simplifying its administrative processes and putting them online. This can be particularly important for small- and medium-sized enterprises, both foreign and domestic. My office has been working with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week to do just that in the area of business registration. We have created a website, GER.co, with links to all online business registration websites in the world. Our goal is to make it easier to register a business anywhere. GER.co lets entrepreneurs know what to expect in terms of the time, costs, and complexity of business registration in each country, and brings investors directly to each country’s official business registration website. The site helps governments identify best practices for business facilitation and can CFI.co | Capital Finance International
be a catalyst for improving, not only business registration websites, but also other online administrative procedures, as governments look at each other’s websites and learn from them. Finally, underlying all three signals is an open Internet, which facilitates the rapid exchange of ideas and data and allows collaboration across borders. An open Internet – combined with a government’s commitment to enforceable contracts, intellectual property protection, and business facilitation – helps enable countries and all their citizens to enjoy the benefits of new technologies, to attract investment, and to accelerate their development prospects towards a more sustainable and prosperous future. i
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ann Low is deputy director of the Office of Investment Affairs at the US Department of State. She has over 25 years of experience working on multilateral and economic affairs. Ms Low has served as the US Representative to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the OECD Working Party on State Ownership and Privatization Practices, and several United Nations’ bodies (UNCTAD, UNDP, UNICEF, DHA, ECOSOC, UNGA). Ms Low graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and has a Masters of Management degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She has served as a visiting diplomat and adjunct professor at Columbia University. 25
CFI.co Spring 2015