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Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

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Moving to the forefront of advanced nations is not a choice but a national duty. This requires, among other things, erecting the best industrial property protection systems despite all challenges, particularly in the transition phase that we must endure.
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November 28, 1999 at the National Seminar on Industrial Property and Technology Transfer in Arab States, Amman, Jordan

 
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

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We are approaching a more fluid state. I have talked about cultural boiling. The idea of the phase-transition period which, in fractal mathematics, is the chaotic flux between one state and another. …Culturally, and as a species, we are approaching a phase-transition. I don’t know quite what that means, on a human level.

 
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We need not only open trading systems, but systems that work for people around the world — taking into account not only the bottom line, but the well-being of working men and women, the protection of children against sweatshop labor, and the protection of the environment.

 
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Did the protection we received annul our rights as men, and lay us under an obligation of being miserable? Who among you, my countrymen, that is a father, would claim authority to make your child a slave because you had nourished him in infancy?
’Tis a strange species of generosity which requires a return infinitely more valuable than anything it could have bestowed; that demands as a reward for a defense of our property a surrender of those inestimable privileges, to the arbitrary will of vindictive tyrants, which alone give value to that very property.

 
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Ricardo’s theory is absolutely right—within its narrow confines. His theory correctly says that, accepting their current levels of technology as given, it is better for countries to specialize in things that they are relatively better at. One cannot argue with that.
His theory fails when a country wants to acquire more advanced technologies so that it can do more difficult things that few others can do—that is, when it wants to develop its economy. It takes time and experience to absorb new technologies, so technologically backward producers need a period of protection from international competition during this period of learning. Such protection is costly, because the country is giving up the chance to import better and cheaper products. However, it is a price that has to be paid if it wants to develop advanced industries. Ricardo’s theory is, thus seen, for those who accept the status quo but not for those who want to change it.

 
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Creating a system to protect industrial and intellectual property is a prerequisite for the transfer of technology and consequently the resurgence of national technologies.

 
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh
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