Monday, July 17, 2006

US anti-FTA side

I got the biggest laugh when my mail alert pushed an article by a commentator of the Puffington Host. Its always funny when commentators in the US enthusasitcaly comment on Korean issues when they could not even find the place on a map. Even more so when you cross over into an area where there are strong feelings already, such a free trade. A few quotes and my comments:

In the Korea negotiations one of the big demands by the US is to cut back the Korean "screen quotas,"... If the USTR "wins" this negotiation, it will reduce global cultural diversity.

Apparently Mr. Love of the Host did not get the memo. Korea scaled back its screen quota almost a year ago. And curiously, Korean movies still out sell American productions. If any culture is at risk in Korea, its Hollywood's.

The issue I follow the closest in the Korea FTA negotiations are the US proposals to create rules, committees and procedures to give the US Department of Commerce and the USTR the ability to exercise influence and control over the way Koreans reimburse pharmaceuticals and other medicines...The USTR strongly objected to Korea's efforts to tie its reimbursement policies (co-payments, etc), to the prices of medicines, practices which are essential for any country to control drug prices.

Again, not too educated on the facts. The problem is not the amounts to be reimbursed per se, rather that the new insurance laws refuse to reimburse ANYTHING for certian US Drugs which have not only been proven to be effective, but also had to go through a seperate approval test in Korea to make sure they work just as well on Koreans as they Coloradans. Meanwhile the same insurance plan will reimburse all sorts of untested "traditional" cures of questionable effects.

Lobbyists for big pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, Merck, or Swiss owned Norvartis, largely developed the USTR positions. These proposals are highly controversial, and were the biggest dispute in last week's negotiating meltdown in Seoul.

Really? Funny thing I walked through that protest you refer to as a "meltdown". I did not read ONE sign or banner refering to drug prices. Am I missing something here? I had no idea tens of thousands farmers and labor unionists were so concerned about drug prices. 

In the Malaysian negotiations this week, and later the next round of Thai negotiations, one of the big issues will be the efforts by USTR to impose very tough intellectual property (IP) rules, particularly as they relate to medicines. 

You cant really blame the US there Mr. Love, IPR violations are rife in those economies. As for the protections of drugs, there is something to be said for the fact that protecting IPR for drug companies help protect public health against fake drugs that are useless at best and life threatening at worst. I know that last statement is somewhat a strong man, but its clear to me that Mr. Love has no idea of how bad the IPR situation is in these countries.


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