WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joseph Biden has promoted the importance of new trade pacts as a way to curb piracy in other countries, in what he said was necessary to create a "global economic order where creativity and innovation can thrive."
Speaking at the Creativity Conference on Friday, Biden questioned how a country can consider itself "a law abiding nation" if piracy is running rampant, "when they are stealing the most valuable intellectual ideas of our country."
In fact, he argued that countries that have let piracy run rampant will "remain second rate powers," as they will struggle to develop their own creative industries without protections.
The conference was sponsored by the MPAA, Microsoft and ABC News.
The Obama administration, under U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, has sought agreement on a host of copyright issues via the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes about a dozen Pacific Rim countries. The provisions include bringing laws in other countries in line with the U.S., such as on the length of copyright terms. But the pact has run into speed bumps in the face of protests as well as doubts that Congress will give the administration fast-track authority to see the agreement through. Critics have charged that the IP provisions weigh too heavily in the favor of studios and other content industries.
But Biden defended the U.S. negotiations, saying that the administration is seeking intellectual property protections along with improved labor standards in other countries as well as environmental protections.
"We make no apologies for insisting on the change standards between NAFTA and now," Biden said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement that went into effect in 1994.
Biden also talked about his negotiations in 2012 with then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping to increase the quota of foreign movies allowed in the country, from 20 to 34. He said that since then, U.S. companies' share of the box office in China has doubled.
When Xi suggested that there was bureaucratic opposition to making such a move, Biden said he told him, "Well, it is real easy. All you have to do it pick up a phone."
Biden argued that, given the changing nature of piracy, trade agreements were needed to "update the rules of the road for this new era."
"If the field is even remotely level, we will succeed," he said.
Biden is a longtime friend of MPAA CEO Chris Dodd, and quipped that when they were serving in the Senate the rumor was that Dodd "controlled" him. When the time came on Friday for Biden to go to the Creativity Conference at the Newseum, he was in the middle of a meeting in the Oval Office with President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"I had to literally stand up and say, Mr. President, I have to go over and talk about trade with Chris Dodd and his group," Biden said, "and Angela Merkel looked at me like, 'What the hell is he talking about."