Pharmaceutical companies' interests are covered in the TPP -- as for everyone else? Ehh ...

Posted by mmcmullan on 12/09/2013

What do we know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

Well, okay. Let’s see, there are 12 parties to the deal (thanks, Wikipedia!). It would cover 40 percent of global trade (thanks, office of the U.S. Trade Representative!). And the New York Times kind of endorsed it because: Slow news day.

But what’s actually in this giant trade pact? It’s hard to say; the deal is being negotiated in secret. The reasoning goes that wide access to the details would doom the TPP before it could be completed. Think of a “too many cooks spoil the broth” kind of scenario. Then again, as Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul pointed out on the Ed Schultz show today: Americans might be outraged if they knew this trade agreement could change laws in this country, without Congress being involved. So really, it's no surprise this is being done in secret.

But! There’s lots of stuff about intellectual property (IP) rights. According to new documents obtained by the Huffington Post – months old now, but still telling – the U.S. negotiating team has been playing hardball about expanding IP rules for pharmaceutical companies, despite broad opposition from the other TPP parties on nearly every point:

The Obama administration is insisting on mandating new intellectual property rules in the treaty that would grant pharmaceutical companies long-term monopolies on new medications. As a result, companies can charge high prices without regard to competition from generic providers. The result, public health experts have warned, would be higher prices around the world, and lack of access to life-saving drugs in poor countries. Nearly every intellectual property issue in the November chart is opposed by a broad majority of the 12 nations.

It’s great that the Obama administration is going to bat for those with an inside line on these negotiations. For those left on the outside, though, it’s hard to get a word in. Those on the outside include majorities in both chambers of Congress, the American auto industry, and a growing number of economists who think a currency manipulation rule should be included in any deal. The administration, on the other hand, doesn’t think that’s a very big concern.

Yep. Lots of smart people over there in the White House. Read the whole article from the Huffington Post here.

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