Drug Trade Good for America?
The drug trade is great for America!
“What?” you say. This is about the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Because of the US presidential election, you’ve likely heard of it. Like other trade deals, you think it doesn’t matter to you and it’s not important to your daily life.
I work in international business and generally, I’m in favor of trade. Spice trade opened civilizations to each other as early as 3000 BC. But today’s trade deals don’t necessarily open civilizations.
Have you ever heard of a “data exclusivity window”? It’s a clause in trade deals that allows companies to block competitors. The US has used it to help pharmaceutical companies protect their gigantic prices over generic versions of the same drug.
We already do it. CAFTA — the Caribbean extension of NAFTA – affords this protection to big pharma profits in some of the poorest countries on Earth. In Guatemala, an HIV drug that can help prevent the spread of this deadly disease costs about 10 times more than in the United States. The average income in Guatemala is about $200 US dollars a month. So, we protect profits over life.
We negotiated a back room deal to include a similar clause in the TPP. So, you see, the drug trade is great for America if you define our country as a big pharmaceutical company.
Some say NAFTA cost us 57,000 American manufacturing facilities and 5 million US manufacturing jobs.
The TPP protects companies that offshore jobs to low-wage countries. In fact, the TPP even guarantees the leaving companies that they will receive compensation for regulatory costs — just for leaving — subsidized by the US taxpayer. A recent study shows that US losses from the TPP would mean that the top 10% would be fine, but anyone making less than $88,000 year— sorry, you’re gonna take a pay cut.
Guess what else? US food safety rules on pesticides, labeling, or additives are subject to challenge as being “illegal trade barriers.” Would you like to check the safety of food you will buy? Just Google “Vietnam toxic fish.” No need to dine by candlelight, just bask in the radiance of your fish or shrimp — brought to you by the TPP.
But it’s not just protecting pharmaceuticals or foul fisheries that should concern us in this mega-trade deal. We all have to keep from infecting the Earth with trash, unless you’re a foreign corporation under the TPP. This trade deal that has bipartisan support allows foreign companies to sue the US government in a private court — not a US court — for damages that our laws cause them. Laws such as environmental protections: We don’t want your pollution in our country, so the US taxpayer has to pay polluters because we want a higher standard of living.
You think I’m kidding. This type of clause already exists, and we US taxpayers have paid $440 million dollars, as of June 2015, under the investor-state enforcement provisions of NAFTA, CAFTA, and bilateral agreements with Peru, Oman, Korea, Panama, and Colombia.
Finally, if none of that is enough to make you ask a few questions, the TPP would forbid countries from banning particularly risky financial products. You know the ones I’m talking about, the credit default swaps that were at the center of the global financial meltdown that we’re still recovering from. You’ve heard that talk about the reinstatement of Glass-Stegall Act? No, no, no, can’t do that. The TPP allows Wall Street banks to sue us taxpayers in their private court because we’re trying to protect ourselves from their predatory practices.
So, yes! Trade in the form of TPP is good for America — if you define America as the big pharmaceutical companies; the toxic fish importers; manufacturing companies that fire US workers so they can hire people for $2 a day; and the banks who think that the world is their poker table, so long as we cover all the bets.