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Towards Change: Korea; Peru; Public Health Objectives
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The U.S. Congress will make important decisions in the next few months on trade and health.  Many members are asking the US Trade Representative to improve provisions on public health, labor and the environment in pending trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and Panama, and in ongoing negotiations with Malaysia and South Korea. In addition, the President's "fast-track" authority, which prevents Congress from amending trade agreements, will expire. This page will present news and updates.

CPATH Comments on KORUS
Sept. 14, 2009
 
CPATH's updated statement on Korea-US FTA, in response to USTR request for comments

Click here to for CPATH Comments to USTR

CPATH in South Korea:

Public Health & the KORUS FTA

June, 2007

 

The National Health Insurance Corporation of Korea invited CPATH Co-Directors Ellen Shaffer and Joe Brenner to visit and discuss KORUS' implications for access to affordable drugs, tobacco control and the encroachment of privatized, for- profit health care.  We found health advocates deeply concerned that KORUS will send the health care system veering off in just the wrong direction at just the wrong time. For story and photos, please click below.

Click here for CPATH KORUS news and photos

KOREAN TRADE AGREEMENT: THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH

May 30, 2007

 

The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) continues the practice of corporate hijacking global trade negotiations to the benefit of transnational drug and tobacco companies, and at the expense of people’s health. It threatens core protections for public health, long under fire from NAFTA's notorious Chapter 11.

 

Despite mounting calls for democratic participation in trade policies relevant to public health, labor and the environment, the U.S. Trade Representative failed to involve its own advisory committees, members of Congress, and the public in negotiating key provisions of KORUS. 

 

The agreement would:

 

         Affect reimbursement rates for hospital drugs covered by Medicare and drugs provided in community clinics in the U.S.

 

         Raise drug prices in Korea. Many Koreans already cannot afford life-saving drugs, and the national health program’s budget is strained.

 

         Reverse recent tobacco controls in Korea, where 47% of men smoke and cancer is the leading cause of death.

 

         Subject water and sanitation services to privatization and deregulation in the U.S. and Korea.

 

         Strengthen NAFTA-style corporate rights that encourage frivolous trade challenges against public health protections, at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers.  

 

CPATH’s “Public Health Report Card on KORUS” details how KORUS undermines Public Health Objectives for Global Trade:

1. Access to affordable medicines

2. Tobacco control

3.  Democratic participation by public health and transparency in trade policy

4.  Protect vital human services such as health care, water supply and sanitation

5.  National, regional and local government sovereignty to protect population health

6.  Sustainable economic development

7. Alcohol beverage control

Click Here for KORUS Public Health Report Card

Congress, Administration Announce New Trade Policy for Peru, Panama
 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, Bush Administration officials, and bipartisan House and Senate leaders held a news conference on May 10 in the Capitol to announce a new bipartisan trade policy intended to incorporate internationally recognized labor and environmental standards in U.S. free trade agreements.  The statement signals intent to proceed to a vote on the Peru and Panama trade agreements. Colombia is not mentioned.

The concept statement, attached by link below, offers some more details than the Democrats' trade policy statement issued in March, but is not entirely specific. The policy on investment is significant for public health, as it would curtail trade disputes that challenge and undermine public health regulations.
 
The policy on access to medicines is an advance over previous TRIPS-Plus  IP provisions in CAFTA and other agreements.  Data exclusivity can remain an unjustifiable barrier to access to medicines. The statement doesn't say explicitly that compulsory licenses are protected, but refers to the TRIPS health solution, a more limited policy which has so far proven impossible to implement.  There is no reason why data protection restrictions should exist in low income countries especially, and maybe others, as they obstruct ready access to affordable medicines. However, this may provide some better relief compared to TRIPS-Plus rules, especially if the data protection period is concurrent with the patent in the first country where filed.  This would be better than adding on 5 more years in the new country if there is no patent there, or after the original patent has expired. The other new policies would limit patent extensions and linkage, which is again an improvement over recent agreements. 
 
The next step should be affirmative movement to a regime that truly stimulates innovation while promoting access to affordable medicines in the U.S. and abroad.

Click here for Concept: new trade policy May-07

Click here for Details: Trade Policy May-07

Ways & Means Dems Propose New Trade Agenda - 3/27/07

Inside US Trade:

"House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) this afternoon won the approval of the Democratic caucus to propose to the Bush Administration a set of principles that could be used to reach an agreement on pending free trade agreements. With the consent of Democrats, Rangel is now free to make this proposal to the administration, which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said would be represented by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. The current negotiations between Rangel and the administration are facing a deadline of March 31, when the administration has to notify to Congress of its intent to sign these FTAs. This is deadline must be reached if these agreements are to be considered under fast track."
 
Among public health issues of interest, it calls on the Bush Administration to change trade provisions on access to medicines in developing countries - though not in Korea; to include Congress in negotiations on services at the WTO level;  to drop rules that give foreign corporations greater rights than US investors to challenge domestic regulations (referring to investor-state rules);  enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements in order to achieve sustainable development and reduce global warming; government procurement provisions that promote fair labor standards and acceptable working conditions; and greater aid and trade with the poorest countries.  It requires countries to implement international  labor standards, and re-asserts Congress' constitutionally granted authority over trade, in the interest of broadly shared benefits for all Americans.

Click here to see W&M Statement

Congress Leaders to USTR: Drop TRIPS-Plus in FTAs
 
Reps. Waxman, McDermott, Allen, Doggett, Schackowsky, Stark, DeGette, Van Hollen, Lee, Blumenauer, Lewis and  Emanuel asked the USTR on March 12 to drop TRIP-Plus provisions that will restrict access to affordable medicines in agreements with Colombia, Panama, Peru, Korea and Malaysia.

Click here to download Congress IP letter

Colombia FTA Presents Threats to Health

Click here for Public Health Critique of Colombia FTA

CPATH submitted comments on the Colombia FTA to the USTR on Sept. 14, 2009:
 

CPATH Statement to Congress 9-19-07:

Peru Trade Agreement Fails Public Health, Tobacco Control Objectives; Improvements for Access to Medicines

Click here for Peru statement 9-07

CPATH On New Peru Trade Text: Improvements for Access to Medicines;

Threats to Public Health Remain

July 5, 2007

Click here for CPATH Analysis of New Peru Text

NEW PERU TEXT RELEASED
 
The U.S. Trade Representative released the revised the text of the Peru FTA on June 25. See below for:

Click here for text of new IP Chapter

Click here for comparison of old and new Peru IP chapters

TOWARDS A HEALTHY TRADE POLICY:

ALTERNATIVES TO THE PERU FTA

MAY, 2007

 

It's time for a new trade policy that works for people.  Click below to see how the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement fails to conform with each of the 7 Public Health Objectives for Global Trade, and public health-compliant alternatives. Use the whole document as a resource to educate policy-makers and colleagues, or use each Objective separately.

Click here for Public Health Alternatives

Public Health Objectives for International Trade Negotiations

Public health advocates are asking Congress and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to adopt enforceable Public Health Objectives as a basis for amending pending trade agreements and to guide any future agreements, and to initiate a review of bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements for their adherence to public health principles.  The objectives are:

 

Public Health Objectives for Global Trade

 

1.      To assure democratic participation by public health and transparency in trade policy by:

a.      Appointing to all relevant trade advisory committees representatives of organizations that work to assure equitable access to affordable health-related services and products, and promote the health of individuals, communities and populations,

b.      Opening all proceedings and documents of trade advisory committees to the public, and

c.      Requiring USTR’s consultation with all relevant committees of the House and Senate in the development, implementation, and administration of U.S. trade policy, without renewing presidential trade promotion authority.

2.      To develop mutually beneficial trade relationships that create sustainable economic development for the U.S. and our trade partners in an increasingly interdependent world.

3.      To recognize the legitimate exercise of national, regional and local government sovereignty to protect population health, and to ensure that countries do not weaken or reduce, as an encouragement for trade, sound policies that contribute to health and well being, including laws on public health, the environ­ment and labor.

4.      To exclude tariff and nontariff  provisions in trade agreements that address vital human services such as health care, water supply and sanitation, food safety and supply, and education, including licensing and cross-border movement of personnel in these fields.

5.      To exclude tobacco and tobacco products, which are lethal, and for which the public health goal is to reduce consumption, from tariff and nontariff provisions of trade agreements, including advertising, labeling, product regulation and distribution.

6.      To exclude alcohol products, which present serious hazards to public health. Policies designed to reduce the harm caused by alcohol products should not be subject to compromise in exchange for other trade benefits.

7.      To eliminate intellectual property provisions related to pharmaceuticals from bilateral and regional negotiations, as these are more appropriately addressed in multilateral fora, and promote trade provisions which enable countries to exercise all flexibilities provided by the Doha Declaration on Public Health, including issuing compulsory licenses for patented pharmaceuticals, parallel importation, and other measures that address high prices and promote access to affordable medicines.

 

Click here to see the Public Health Objectives and Supporters

Rep. Blumenauer to USTR: Protect Korea from Tobacco
 
Rep. Earl Blumenauer's (D-OR) letter on 3/22/07 asks the USTR to exempt tobacco products from the Korea trade agreement, and to exempt tobacco control measures from trade challenges.

Click here to read Rep. Blumenauer tobacco letter

CPATH TESTIMONY ON KORUS: PROTECT TOBACCO CONTROL, AFFORDABLE MEDICINES
March 28, 2007

click here for CPATH Testmony on KORUS to W&M March 28, 2007

The U.S.-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreements:

Public Health Critique and Fixes

March 26, 2007

Public Health Objectives for Global Trade propose policies that would promote and protect health and sustainable economic development. (See Ways & Means Testimony below for signatories to the Objectives.) The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, and the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement, with substantially similar provisions, have been signed by the President, and await review by Congress. These reports recommend how to fix the U.S.-Colombia and the Peru Trade Agreements to conform with these Objectives on public health representation on trade advisory committees; domestic authorities’ right and imperative to regulate; and public health protections for health services, health professional licensing, tobacco and alcohol control, and access to affordable medicines. 

Click here to see Peru Problems and Fixes & supporters

Click here to download Colombia Problems & Fixes

Public Health Objectives: Testimony to Ways & Means

CPATH  and other public health groups submitted the Public Health Objectives for Global Trade to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, as testimony for the Committee's hearing on February 14, 2007, with USTR Susan Schwab.  To see the Testimony, and groups and individuals who have signed the statement, please click below.

Click here to see Testimony to Ways & Means

To sign up or volunteer for an event, see our "Contact Us" page.

Bringing a Public Health Voice to Global Trade and Sustainable Development
CPATH
Ellen R. Shaffer and Joe Brenner, Co-Directors
P.O. Box 29586, San Francisco, CA 94129
phone 415-922-6204