SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) failed to reach a final agreement yesterday in Singapore. This is an interim victory for campaigns by the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH) and allies to extricate tobacco control measures and other public health protections from nullification by corporate trade rules. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, claiming 6 million lives a year. Multinational tobacco companies are systematically exercising rights found only in trade agreements to challenge and enjoin life-saving public health protections from this deadly, addictive product. The Trans Pacific Partnership would expand NAFTA-style trade rules among 12 Pacific Rim nations.
Medical and public health organizations worldwide, and our legal advisors, explored the problems and possible solutions during the 4 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. 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 advisors.
"CPATH extends deep gratitude to the public health and medical community for consistent support," said CPATH Co-Director Ellen R. Shaffer. Partners and colleagues in the U.S. and in TPP countries, such as the South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), and the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, have 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.
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."
CONTACT: Ellen R. Shaffer, 415-922-6204, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)