Trade in Ideas Program

Trade in Ideas Program

Eskil Ullberg, an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Department of Economics, hosted the Trade in Ideas Program at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on February 26, 2018. The purpose of the Trade in Ideas program is to “better understand the economic potential of the patent system as a trade system for new (technical) ideas, to inform a policy discussion on development.” The program is based on research by Ullberg, which was presented the WTO Trade Dialogue Series at the WTO in June 2017.

Sweden is funding the pilot study, which started in July 2017. The study aims at an overall assessment of the North-South trade potential of technological ideas based on patent systems. The pilot study has created a broad interest in participation and three countries have joined the study so far: Chile, Azerbaijan, and Kenya. The Trade in Ideas program is divided into two phases. Phase 1 focuses on data, learning, and testing, which includes an extended pilot-study with national researchers, statistical framework, and test cases. Phase II involves policy discussion and institutional development, which emphasizes institutional learning, taxation policy, and broader policy discussions.  

Representatives from over twenty developing and developed countries joined the event for a presentation and discussion of the Trade in Ideas Program. Attendees heard Ullberg present on the program, which explores opportunities to strengthen developing countries’ capacity and the opportunity to capitalize on their countries’ human capital for economic growth.

Following the presentation attendees engaged in a discussion to determine what key issues the countries are facing today. These key issues will then be included in the program designated by theme and studied further. The program will be hosted at IMIT. Conversations were established on the idea of creating a level playing field so players can benefit, economically, from the exchange of human ideas. The presentation and discussion focused on learning about the mechanisms like the patent system to turn the knowledge gained into an economic advantage by leveraging human capital. Trade in Ideas Statistics Framework, a follow-up project, is planned for 2018.

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