Do you recall that yesterday I mentioned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, far from being a free trade agreement, was a negotiation over who would be winners and and who would be losers? Economist Joseph Stiglitz identifies some of the winners and some of the losers. Winners—big pharmaceutical companies. Losers—pharmaceutical consumers:
A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world.
Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries.
Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions — those relating to intellectual property rights. And we’re not talking just about music downloads and pirated DVDs. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs.
The secrecy of the T.P.P. negotiations makes them maddeningly opaque and hard to discuss. But we can get a pretty good idea of what’s happening, based on documents obtained by WikiLeaks from past meetings (they began in 2010), what we know of American influence in other trade agreements, and what others and myself have gleaned from talking to negotiators.
U. S. intellectual property laws are some of the most restrictive in the world. If anything, our intellectual property laws should be weakened since they no longer serve their constitutional purpose. And here our negotiators are acting to strengthen them. It’s remarkable how these things work out.