The failure to reach agreement during negotiations in Singapore on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being seen as an interim victory for campaigns by the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH) and its allies.
CPATH said in a press note issued through PRNewswire yesterday that it wanted to extricate tobacco control measures and other public health protections from nullification by corporate trade rules.
It said that multinational tobacco companies were systematically exercising rights found only in trade agreements to challenge lifesaving public health protections. “Medical and public health organizations worldwide, and our legal advisers, explored the problems and possible solutions during the four years of TPP negotiations, and concluded that the only genuine solution would be to carve out (or remove) tobacco control laws and regulations from trade agreements,” the press note said. “Malaysia has advanced just such a proposal. This would set a standard in trade law that would complement the global consensus on fighting the tobacco epidemic enshrined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which all TPP countries are signatories.
“The U.S. Trade Representative has not agreed, nor exercised leadership towards a viable resolution. U.S. trade policy is set in secret, driven by 600 corporate advisers.”
CPATH’s co-director Ellen R. Shaffer paid tribute to the public health and medical community for consistent support. She said that partners and colleagues in the U.S. and in TPP countries, such as the South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, had issued strong calls to protect public health.
“Their compelling statements on the domestic sovereign rights of countries to adopt and maintain measures to reduce tobacco use and to prevent its harm have helped make public health and tobacco a central issue in TPP negotiations,” Shaffer said.
CPATH said that other U.S. proposals for the TPP would jeopardize global access to affordable medicines, require that countries allow the patenting of surgical methods, place restraints on public health insurance programs and subject government formularies and reimbursement programs to greater interference from pharmaceutical companies.
“We must restore democratic practice and principles of economic and social sustainability to the trade negotiations process,” said CPATH co-director Joseph E. Brenner. “We need a 21st century trade agreement. Carving out tobacco could signal the dawn of that century.”
Category: Breaking News