Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, March 22nd, 2014 - 47 comments
Categories: activism, assets, business, capitalism, class war, democratic participation, sustainability, trade, us politics, workers' rights - Tags:
New Zealanders have every reason to join next Saturday’s (29 March) Day of Action against TPP. It’s an agreement being strongly pushed by various major US multinationals, including those of the motion picture industry, computer industries and “Big Pharma”.
This article on the website for the Sunlight Foundation, “How Big Pharma (and others) began lobbying on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before you ever heard of it“.
Major players in the pharmaceutical industry have pushed long and hard for the TPP, and are considered to have been a major influence on the shape of the agreement:
It was an early clue as to which industry would take the most active role in trying to shape the trade agreement while it was still secret from the public. From 2009 until mid-2013 (the time during which the language of the agreement was still reasonably fluid), drug companies and associations mentioned the trade agreement in 251 separate lobbying reports – two and a half times more than the next most active industry (at least measured by lobbying reports).
It is an investment that appears to have paid off. The TPP is quite friendly to drug manufacturers, strengthening patent exclusivity and providing protections against bulk government purchasing (should it hurt profits). At the behest of the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. is also pushing to limit the ability of national regulatory agencies to support generic drug development. All of this suggests that the active lobbying has paid off.
The articles linked in the above extract provide a grim scenario and indicate that NZ’s Pharmac will be under pressure to serve Big Pharma and disregard the needs and well-being of Kiwis. This Huffington Post article, linked above, says the following:
Under the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations, drug companies will be able to challenge any restraint on their ability to price-gouge, including laws that empower public programs like Medicare and Medicaid to use their purchasing power to obtain lower prices.
The Sunlight Foundation article also provides graphic information about which industries and which corporations have campaigned for the TPP in their own interests, and for how long. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have been the strongest and longest lobbyists for the TPP.
Looking at the top 20 organizations (Figure 2 below) tells a similar picture: PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s trade association, tops the list at 44 reports mentioning the trade agreement, followed closely by drug giant Pfizer at 42. The Chamber of Commerce comes in third, with 34 reports, followed by the Dairy Farmers of America, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and Yahoo!, all at 29 reports.
The requisite caveat is these counts are based on voluntary disclosures, and they rely on the organization to specifically mention the trade agreement by name in its lobbying disclosure forms (as opposed to something like “trade issues”). Still, the lobbying patterns shouldn’t come as a surprise: They largely reflect the interests that are most likely to be affected by the trade agreement.
Other organisations that have lobbied strongly for the TPP include Hollywood corporates, car makers, the textile industry, and the dairy sector. The US representatives of the latter, are explicitly concerned about the possibility of opening up the US dairy sector to NZ exporters.
See the It’s Our Future Website for details on protests planned next Saturday in places throughout NZ.
Page One events at – all beginning at 1pm (At the links, there are links to each event giving beginning meet-up point).