ObamaTrade Details Unveiled, Officials Say “It’s Worse Than We Thought”
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (ObamaTrade) means that America will write the rules for 21st century trade,” according to President Obama, but Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told members and U.S. labor representatives that Obamatrade is even “worse than we thought.” The agreement contained weak, poorly worded or unenforceable provisions, concluding “we do not believe those improvements are significant or meaningful for workers.” It appears, that ObamaTrade may be a boon for factory and export economies like Malaysia and Vietnam, but – as expected – will achieve little for the average joe in America. American companies without heavy ties to the Obama administration, like Ford Motor Company, have opposed ObamaTrade from the start.
President Barack Obama, who championed the deal, will have to muster support among moderates in Washington to ensure ratification, or he will just bypass them again.
The deal does not include measures demanded by some U.S. lawmakers to punish currency manipulation or checks and balances for cheating on labor agreements, disappointing car maker Ford Motor Co, although members pledged not to deliberately weaken their currencies.
The TPP would be a boon for factory and export economies like Malaysia and Vietnam. Anticipated tariff perks are already luring record foreign investment into Vietnamese manufacturing, and both countries are expected to see increased demand for their key exports, including palm oil, rubber, electronics, seafood and textiles.
That could put pressure on several of Asia’s major developing economies, including the Philippines and Indonesia, which have recently expressed interest in signing up to the pact.. Thailand said it was studying the deal and might consider joining.
Of course, there is one big huge winner – as Zerohedge detailed previously – Big Pharma…
The sprawling deal would affect a variety of issues, including more taxes, higher tariffs, labor rights, and international investment. But the deal’s most controversial provisions are the ones limiting competition in the pharmaceutical industry. According to Doctors Without Borders, “The TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines.”
Though the final text of the agreement won’t be available for at least another month, here’s what we know so far.
The TPP will drive up costs for some of the most expensive drugs on the market, especially in the poorest countries.
One of the biggest sticking points in the negotiations had to do with data protection for biologic drugs.
Biologics are treatments made from biological sources, including vaccines, anti-toxins, proteins, and monoclonal antibodies for everything from Ebola to cancer.
Because of the high prices of these drugs, companies are very interested in developing “biosimilars” – cheaper copies of the original drugs, similar to generic versions of pharmaceuticals. The reason these biosimilars are so cheap is that manufacturers can usually just rely on data from clinical trials submitted by the maker of the original biologic. But, of course, the maker of the original drug doesn’t want everyone using its data and making generic drugs.
So in the United States, there are now really protective rules for the drug makers thanks to drug makers buying politicians.
And by the way, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, arguably the most corrupt politician in the history of the USA, has received more campaign cash from drug companies than any candidate in either party, even as she proudly declares the industry is one of her biggest enemies.
So now any maker of a biologic gets 12 years of data exclusivity. The FDA can’t approve a similar drug that relies on the original data during this time. (Theoretically, other companies could conduct their own trials to create a biosimilar, but because this is so expensive, it defeats the point.) By contrast, in other countries, there are looser rules – or no rules – around such data exclusivity. Japan offers eight years, for instance. Brunei offers zero.
As part of the TPP, the United States (and the pharmaceutical lobby) had been pushing to get every country to agree on 12 years of data protection for biologics. The final agreement falls somewhere in between, with a period of data exclusivity from at least five to eight years, according to the New York Times, except for the U.S. of course.
This means the agreement will prevent more affordable biosimilars from entering the market for a longer period of time in places that previously had no bar to entry.
The earliest the TPP could come before Congress is March, just as the U.S. presidential primary season is heating up, creating the risk that the deal becomes a campaign issue… which may not be a bad thing.