Guest Column by James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International
President Barack Obama, in his 2013 State of the Union address, referred to an international trade proposal called the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, or TPP for short. It’s a massive set of trade negotiations with a lot at stake, affecting about 40% of all global commerce from the use of the internet to the price of drugs.
Salon called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the biggest trade deal you’ve never heard of, and speculated it “could potentially be the most significant foreign and domestic policy initiative of the Obama Administration.”
So why haven’t you heard of it? Three reasons:
- First, the negotiations of the TPP are held in secret, making it hard to report.
- Second, trade agreements are perceived to deal with technical and obscure issues that news editors think would bore most readers to death.
- Finally, the White House makes it sound as if the trade agreement simply imposes “our” norms on foreigners, making it seem less relevant to U.S. readers
The TPP, in fact, will be a game-changer for all of us and is woefully lacking in media coverage.
Enough is known by activists about the negotiations to paint a fairly clear picture of its impact on global prices for medicines. That’s what I’m focusing on here. In particular, the TPP is poised to reverse major concessions on intellectual property rights protection for medicines in developing countries that were put in place in 2007 by the Bush Administration.
I think it’s both surprising and worth reporting that the Obama Administration is actually more hostile to the interests of the global poor than was the Bush Administration.