Published on May 29th, 2014 on TwinCities.com (Pioneer Press) by Gary Ellis
“Countries around the world are dealing with many economic, security and political challenges. Specific to competition and trade in a global market, there are 12 nations — including our own — hard at work on a trade agreement that holds great promise for all Minnesotans.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership may not be a household name, but this global trade agreement has the potential to drive better access to health care, stronger economies and increased innovation and competitiveness, both here and abroad. Yet, as negotiations proceed around this agreement, critical barriers exist for the health care industry.
Too often, conversations about global trade rely heavily on numbers like gross domestic product and, while they are critically important, they don’t inspire a compelling picture of the impact of international trade on the well-being of American families. Here are some numbers that may resonate:
— Trade and investment policies save the average Minnesota family of four more than $10,000 per year, with imports helping to keep prices down, while increasing choices for goods and services.
— In the workforce, international trade creates and supports 755,000 jobs in Minnesota by generating new business through exports across large and small companies, factories and farms and within headquarters of global companies like Medtronic.
— In 2012, Minnesota companies sold their products in 206 international markets, ranking 19th in the export of U.S. goods, with an estimated value of $23.7 billion.
Minnesota is home to more than 350 medical technology and device companies, employing more than 30,000 people in the state. These numbers are poised to grow, but can only be fully realized if our ability to trade in a global market continues to thrive through robust trade agreements like TPP. For Medtronic, our business outside the United States is growing rapidly and contributes almost $7.5 billion to our annual revenue. Worldwide, we employ 46,000 people (8,000 based in Minnesota), and our workforce supports efforts to bring our lifesaving therapies to patients in more than 140 countries.
Regardless of these statistics, the health care sector — which includes a diverse group of goods and services and is a major part of our economy — is not always viewed as an engine for economic growth at home. Without the ability to trade and deliver our therapies to other countries around the world, patients in Japan, for example, often do not have access to the latest medical devices until several years after they are approved in the United States because of lag times in regulatory processes.
To change this, we must look more broadly at trade negotiations by ensuring the goods and services comprising the entire health care ecosystem are considered in trade negotiations. Our sector will not only drive economic growth, but will help patients around the world have access to lifesaving therapies from companies in Minnesota. Trade negotiations provide a forum for harmonizing regulatory approval processes in the interest of patient safety and access to innovation. Companies like Medtronic have to navigate highly variable governmental policies and regulations in the very markets where the greatest patient need exists. As an example, we and others favor greater transparency in government decision-making among our TPP trading partners.
We have talented and determined leaders in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, led by Ambassador Michael Froman. We have frequently shared Minnesota success stories of innovative health products and services provided globally and how that can continue to drive our economy and the well-being of people worldwide.
Now is the time to hold ourselves and our trading partners accountable to improving access to care and best health outcomes by expanding the flow of goods and services. Investing in international trade and strategic export promotion initiatives is vitally important to our economy and jobs here at home.”
Gary Ellis, chief financial officer and senior vice president at Medtronic Inc., writes on behalf of the Alliance for Healthcare Competitiveness, which advocates for improved access to health care products and services across borders.
Original article available below:
The Alliance for Global Health and Competitiveness, LLC is a multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI) of the Business Council for Global Development, LLC.
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