Has the influence of the major pharmaceutical industry on US trade policy faded?

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Our main article today is after Washington unexpectedly took action to support the World Trade Organization’s travel exemption. The question raised is whether the era of the big pharmaceutical industry’s significant impact on trade can be attributed to the garbage in history. box.

Charter waters Study how the EU and China have become increasingly close trading partners.

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Will the influence of the big pharmaceutical industry on trade policy disappear?

Most people who trade in Washington have been thinking about when U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai might stop reviewing and actually take action. no longer.

Tai failed to attend the World Trade Organization General Council meeting last Wednesday to discuss the suspension of intellectual property rules for the Covid-19 vaccine. Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain suggested she attend the meeting earlier this week, which increased hopes for the vaccine IP exemption decision. Instead, the Charg d’affaires of the United States Mission in Geneva appeared and read a tedious and brief statement.

It turns out that all of us are misreading meetings. The operation returned to the Oval Office in Washington, where the mysterious Thai, who was said to have never even planned to go to Geneva, met with President Joe Biden and a small number of senior White House officials to serve Washington. Shocking verdict: When it comes to vaccine IP, the United States should not continue to oppose the WTO’s Trips exemption.

It is tempting to view it as a wise political move. This is a grand statement, but the Biden administration does not actually need support for a long time. His team can talk to allies, many of whom oppose this exemption and try to get something through the WTO, but it will take a while. At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel) immediately came out to oppose the actions of the United States, and it now looks like Washington is rapidly becoming a villain. The United States can sit down proudly and say that with arched eyebrows and no export controls, it supports the trips exemption vaccine. Your move, Europe.

Who lost? Well, the pharmaceutical companies are still angry. They understand that this is essentially just the beginning of the WTO debate. But they still hate its appearance and still dismiss their arguments because it is a slippery slope that will hinder innovation and cause China and Russia to steal American technology.

For them, this is also a different moment: it may mark the demise of the industry’s historically huge influence on US trade policy.

When Barack Obama tried to establish his doomed trans-Pacific trade partnership through the US Congress, it was Big Pharma that helped it dissolve. Former Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is one of Capitol’s industry supporters and fundamentally undermined Obama’s efforts to reach a trade agreement with 12 Pacific Rim countries, which is only eight years old. The protection period can avoid the competition of cutting-edge biological drugs. Hatch believes that pharmaceutical companies should have stronger protective measures.

According to Trump’s “U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” the industry has performed poorly. As regular “Trade Secrets” readers know, it is Tai who believes that she safely approved the transaction through Congress from the office of the Supreme Trade Democrat Ritchie Neal. The provisions to protect biological agents from competition for 10 years have been completely deleted from the final agreement.

If Big Pharma is concerned about landslides, there are good reasons to do so. The United States tends to use its existing trade agreement as the starting point for the next trade agreement, and it has not been able to support the Trips exemption for the Covid-19 vaccine not long ago.

Some people on the mountain have also seen this situation.

The political pressure to curb the rise in U.S. drug prices has been for some time.Notorious situation Martin Shkreli The increase in the price of the AIDS drug Daraprim by nearly 5,000% is just one of several high-profile cases that have damaged the reputation of the industry. The result of the entire Shkreli saga is that both Republicans and Democrats support the bill to increase drug prices for American patients-Donald Trump even joined, vowing to reduce “unfair” costs.

The views of a Democratic aide can be traced back to December 2019, when the House of Representatives passed a bill designed to reduce the cost of prescription drugs by authorizing the government to negotiate prices with manufacturers. Big Pharma opposed the legislation and lobbied against it. The assistant recounted a conversation with an employee of a pharmaceutical company who insisted that the bill would never pass the Senate: “I’m like, the fact that just passed the House means your time has come.”

But Dai’s decision also reflects the current situation. It is worth noting that the worsening of the pandemic in India has changed the hearts of many people in Hill. A small group of supporters of the early exemption quickly swelled to more than 100 Democrats. A few days before the announcement, on Friday, April 30, a meeting with the White House Covid-19 response coordinators Tai and Jeff Zients was held. Meeting, so that a few of them attended the meeting. . The lawmakers made a request. I should point out that Tai also held meetings on other days with executives from a few vaccine manufacturing companies that have been approved for use in the United States or are about to receive vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax.

It may be too early to say that the influence of the pharmacist has completely disappeared. The impact of the immunity, if any, will depend to a large extent on the details of the proposed text. Almost everything can still be played. A European diplomat suggested to Trade Secrets that the wisest way forward is to have Thailand hold bilateral talks with its counterparts in countries that oppose the abstention, and then make new proposals to the WTO. This will circumvent the current proposals from India and South Africa (the proposal was made last year to abandon all vaccines and treatments related to the pandemic), and it is not difficult to refuse to negotiate with the serious US proposal.

While pharmaceutical companies are soothing their wounds and planning their next steps, advocacy groups are still shocked by their unexpected victory. “In the decades of working in Washington, contact with medical advocates has been frustrated,” said Nicholas Lusiani, a senior US adviser at Oxfam. “In order to add a certain sense of responsibility to the pharmaceutical industry, I don’t think anyone believes this will happen.”

Chartered waters

Yesterday’s “Trade Secrets” explored why the European Union tried China steals China’s trade ambitions Although the two sides are increasingly dependent on each other economically, they have not had the desired impact in Beijing. This is a chart showing the figure:

The EU has imported more goods from China than any other country, and as shown in the figure, China is also becoming an increasingly important destination for EU exports, because the country’s middle class continues to expand and there are more and more Ability to afford the luxury goods that Europe must have. provide. Claire Jones

Trade ties

Our must read is European Express today, It entered the chaotic hot pot Relations between the EU and Switzerland. Valentina Pop and Sam Jones report that this relationship has recently become particularly fragile as Bern renegotiates the terms of its agreement with the European Union.

For those interested in watching how Sino-European Relations Recommended, recommended by Alan Beattie This blogFormer reporter from Reuters, Noah Barkin, currently senior visiting scholar of the German Marshall Foundation.

Rising container Shipping fee Due to capacity constraints and a surge in demand for consumer durables, prices have been soaring (sorry).Harry Dempsey and Neil Hume have one Great reading This morning showed that the same thing happened to the transportation cost (although little changed) raw material.

Foreign manufacturers compete Covid-19 outbreak in India, Using Nikkei Index ($, subscription required) report Japan’s Yamaha has suspended the production of two motorcycle factories, while Suzuki has prioritized medical oxygen over automobile manufacturing.

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo (Gina Raimondo) is Plan the summit With big players Chip industry Solve the problem of global shortages. (Bloomberg, $-subscription required)

Holger Hestermeyer of King’s College London interesting In the news, Reported by the Financial Times over the weekend, That is, use Freeport in the UKOne of the grand ideas of stimulating trade will not be able to take advantage of the trade agreements signed after Brexit.

British musicians They complain loudly about the impact of Brexit on their industries, which makes it more difficult to embark on a trip to the EU.Trading Information Reported yesterday The government has a novel idea to relieve this pressure: Use EU transport vehicles. We are not sure what is going on with British truck drivers. As “ciaran euro express” Put on twitter,Yes on the bus? Claire Jones

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