September 9, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

US Trade Rep "public engagement" call was a joke

I was just on a conference call with the US Trade Representative as part of their effort for "public engagement." 

After sitting on hold for about 10 minutes, we were treated to a statement from the US Trade Representative Ambassdor Froman, about how important they thought public engagement was and congratulating their staff for the great job they were doing

They then had about 10 or 15 minutes for a few questions. (I pushed the button to get in the que almost immediately after they invited people to do so and never got called on.)

The last person they did call on was Greg Haifley from American Cancer Society, who asked a pointed question about whether or not the US would support Malaysia's carve out for tobacco.  Needless to say Froman gave him a run around about "balancing" issues.  Needless to say there was no time for a followup question from Greg or anyone else.

This is a crucial issue for global public health since the Trans Pacific Partnership looks like it will be the golden shield to protect Big Tobacco from public health, particularly since Obama caved to tobacco industry pressure to back off the weak protections for public health they floated last year.



Amb. Froman stated that the President's trade agenda and focus on TPP are to promote growth, create jobs, produce a high-standard 21st century trade agreement, that reflects 21st century realities.
APEC leaders will meet in Bali in early October.  TPP leaders will meet and agree to try to conclude this year.
Questions were accepted by representatives from the milk and sugar industries, and from the auto and steel workers, the Sierra Club, and AIDS Action Center at McGill University.
<strong;Gregg Haifley of ACS-CAN asked the final question, re: U.S. response to the Malaysia proposal to carve out tobacco from the TPP.
Froman did not address whether this topic is being discussed today at the "intersessional" meeting, specifically when it would be discussed, or what the position of the U.S. or any other country is.&nbsp; He referred to the widely discredited recent U.S. proposal, described by&nbsp;trade experts as "without legal significance."&nbsp; The U.S.&nbsp;goal is to ensure that the US and other TPP partners can regulate fully in the interest of&nbsp;public health, &nbsp;in particular re: tobacco, including the U.S. Tobacco Control Act of 2009.&nbsp; At the same time, the U.S. does not want to create precedence for restricting trade.&nbsp; "We are in dialogue with stakeholders and with
other TPP partners and expect that in the coming months we will address those concerns."

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