Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health - CPATH

Public Health Testimony On Fast Track /Trade Promotion Authority, to House Ways & Means 4/22/15

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Public Health/CPATH Testimony On
Fast Track /Trade Promotion Authority
Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015
Hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means
“Expanding American Trade with Accountability and Transparency”
April 22, 2015
Working Title: "Bargaining to
Concentrate the Power and Wealth of Global Corporations in Finance, Drugs, Tobacco, Fossil Fuel, Agribusiness, Media and Information Technology; to
Entrench and Deepen Income Inequality; and to
Progressively Reduce the Rights and Policy Space of People and Democratically Elected Public Officials and Governments"
Joseph E. Brenner MA and Ellen R. Shaffer PhD MPH, CPATH
Overview:. A raft of complex trade agreements with sweeping implications for the public’s health are being negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in secrecy, shielded from the light of public scrutiny.  These include the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with 11 Pacific Rim nations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union, and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Unfortunately the USTR has relied on Trade Advisors representing the pharmaceutical, tobacco, alcohol, health insurance, and processed food industries in shaping the Administration’s trade objectives and negotiating positions relating to public health and health care.

These deals confer new and expanded rights to transnational corporations to protect their profits over the rights of democratically elected governments and the public. These include the right to challenge the implementation of domestic laws and regulations in international trade tribunals.

This bill would create a Fast-Track process to allow trade agreements to leapfrog customary legislative protocol, and be put to a rapid "up or down" vote in Congress without public hearings or amendments, including those in the interest of protecting the health and safety of the American people.

The Fast Track bill also aims to set out Congress’ policy objectives for trade agreements, as well as  an undemocratic and abbreviated process for reviewing them.  As an illustration of this fatally flawed legislation, not one objective would safeguard or improve the economic well-being of the American middle class. Rather, they prioritize commercial gain at the expense of people's health, including access to affordable medicine, protection from deadly tobacco products, and democratic sovereignty to make decisions to safeguard and improve our health. 

A more appropriate title would be: Bargaining to Concentrate the Power and Wealth of Global Corporations Including Finance, Drugs, Tobacco, Fossil Fuel, Agribusiness, Media and Information Technology; to Entrench and Deepen Income Inequality; and to Progressively Reduce the Rights and Policy Space of People and Democratically Elected Public Officials and Governments.

Promote Democratic, Transparent, and Accountable Trade Negotiations 

In order to create trade agreements that advance the promises of the 21st century for sustainable technological and economic development that protect and promote health, CPATH recommends that Congress adopt and enforce robust objectives for the TPP Trade Agreement negotiations that will safeguard the health of Americans and our trading partners, and promote economically and socially just, democratically controlled, and environmentally sustainable outcomes, specifically the following Public Health Objectives for Global Trade Agreements: 

Public Health Objectives for U.S. Global Trade Agreements

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

  1. Open all proceedings and documents of trade negotiations and trade advisory committees to the public; and
  2. Appoint to all three tiers of 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, who can provide formal advice to USTR from the public health and health care community to USTR; and
  3. USTR to consult with all relevant committees of the House and Senate in the development, negotiation, implementation, and administration of trade and negotiating objectives.

2.     Develop mutually beneficial trade relationships with trade partners that create sustainable economic development in an increasingly interdependent world.

3.     Recognize the legitimate exercise of national, regional and local government sovereignty to protect population health, and ensure that countries do not weaken or reduce, as an encouragement for trade, sound policies that contribute to health and well-being and democracy, including laws on public health, the environ­ment, labor, food safety, human rights and internet freedom.

4.     Exclude tariff and nontariff provisions 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.     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 the TPP, including advertising, labeling, product regulation and distribution.

6.     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.     Eliminate intellectual property provisions related to pharmaceuticals from the TPP and TTIP 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.

The outline of the following comments is as follows:
1. Economic globalization and health – Overview
2. The track record: trade and health
3. Transparency and democracy
4. Intellectual property rules limit access to affordable medicines
5. Tobacco corporation challenges to tobacco controls

6. Investor-state dispute resolution

Conclusion: Oppose the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015

CLICK HERE FOR CPATH TESTIMONY

Senate Votes NO on Fact Track!

On May 12, 2015, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a cloture vote on the Trade Promotion Act (TPA), on a strongly party line vote, with 52 in favor and 45 opposed.  61 are needed to proceed to a vote. 

Ellen R. Shaffer, CPATH, May 11: ...the "Fast-Track" bill/Trade Promotion Authority Act (TPA) would lock in the president's power to negotiate trade deals in secret, consulting with privileged corporate advisors but without input from the public, or Congress. Further, it would bind Congress to abdicate its democratic responsibility to review, debate and amend any trade deal, allowing only an up-or-down vote, after negotiations have concluded. And the bill would apply for 6 years.

CPATH and others conclude that these agreements have sweeping implications for the public's health and economic wellbeing.  [See more ]

Opinion | Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Rosa DeLauro

Who is writing the TPP?

The Boston Globe, May 12, 2015

 ...modern “trade” agreements are often less about trade and more about giant multinational corporations finding new ways to rig the economic system to benefit themselves.

Public Health to Congress: Oppose Fast Track!
 
CPATH testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, April 22, 2015
"Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015."

CPATH suggests this Working Title:

"Bargaining to Concentrate the Power and Wealth of Global Corporations Including Finance, Drugs, Tobacco, Fossil Fuel, Agribusiness, Media and Information Technology; to

Entrench and Deepen Income Inequality; and to Progressively Reduce the Rights and Policy Space of People and Democratically Elected Public Officials and Governments"   

Click here to download CPATH Statement on Fast Track, April 22, 2015

CindyatBera3.jpg
CIndy Young for CPATH, 3rd from Left (front)

CPATH representative Cindy Young alerted Congressional Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-CA), and staff for Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), on the public health hazards of granting the President “fast track” trade promotion authority, at 2 district meetings in March, 2015. Young presented a public health letter [link below] from CPATH and California Public Health Association-North (CPHA-N) detailing how fast track authority would allow complex trade agreements with sweeping implications for the public’s health, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP), to leapfrog democratic review and require members of Congress to cast an "up or down" vote without public hearings or amendments. This would set a dangerous standard for public health and for our democracy.

She also presented the recent Journal article by Dr. Sohil Sud,  CPATH Fellow, on tobacco and trade.  

CPATH  urged Congress to intensify transparency and involvement by the public and our elected officials at every stage of trade negotiations. Congress must retain the ability to ensure that our trade obligations do not undermine the mandate of governments to protect public welfare objectives, including income equality, affordable medicines, tobacco control, fair labor standards and a safe environment.

The coalition of community, environmental, and labor partners at the meetings included the Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America, Postal Workers of America, SEIU 1000, Sierra Club, Democratic Club of Sacramento, IBEW, and the Alliance for Democracy.


CPATH, CPHA-N Letter: No Fast-Track!

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