Fifty years ago, trade agreements were mainly aimed at reducing tariffs, which are a kind of tax on imports. The aim of these agreements is to increase foreign competition faced by domestic companies and thus force them to lower prices for consumers. While this could help keep the cost of family budgets low, it has also supplanted workers and reduced wages in these size-reducing industries, just as standard business theory would predict. Debates about trade agreements often fall into predictable lines of “free trade” or “protectionism.” But modern trade agreements go much further than setting tariffs. NAFTA 2018 is no exception, and if passed, its provisions are likely to deepen our era of monopoly. But what`s even more important is that PhRMA and BIO, the biotech trading association, now routinely encourage in-depth drug development. This means that the facts behind the arguments that justify 12 years of biological exclusivity are also changing. Trade agreements do not need to support monopolies. For its part, the European Union takes a strong competitive approach in its trade agreements, which offers regulators a much broader lens than narrow consumer protection standards. As a result of their best approach, Europe is at the forefront of the big tech challenge. But something funny has happened in recent decades. Lobbyists who feared that few export-oriented manufacturing industries had been invested in trade negotiations tried to extend the network to companies specializing in services and intellectual property. Although President Trump called the original NAFTA “the worst deal ever approved,” its 1800-year-old 2018-Redux NAFTA reveals an agreement that is more continuity than change.
The Sierra Club, a leading environmental organization, called it a handout for oil companies and polluters like the original deal, while Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the destroyer of Trump`s Congress, said, “95 percent of what we`re going to vote on is the same as NAFTA.” “It offers a new perspective on a key aspect of business development and provides impressive data to support the idea that private trade has been the main dynamo of business innovation and expansion.” – John McAleer, Journal of Maritime History The integration of the consumer protection standard into NAFTA means that if ever the United States or our trading partners tried, Expanding the toolbox to deal with new types of monopoly power like Facebook, we could violate international law. Technology or pharmaceutical companies could, for example, lobby the Canadian or Mexican government to diplomatically question hypothetical new rules in order to weaken or get rid of them. But despite the realization that developments like this will have a profound impact on research and development, PhRMA`s commitment to the trade deal has not changed. On its own, as well as through organizations such as the PASSPORT USMCA Coalition and the National Association of Manufacturers, PhRMA has aggressively insisted that the 10-year monopoly clause be included in the trade agreement and argues that such a period of protection is necessary to encourage innovation. This argument did not turn out to be too convincing. In July, 104 members of the House of Representatives wrote to Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, opposing it. PhRMA`s innovation argument has been protecting long and expensive monopolies for years. In an election year with enormous political pressure from voters on the president and members of Congress to stem the high price of medicines, the industry has a right to worry that blind support for innovation through pragmatic policy will continue.
The final version of the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada will tell the story. We need to update our policy instruments for these new types of monopolies. This brings us back to the debate on international trade. The new agreement is therefore a missed opportunity. If our political leaders decide they want to contain the power of the world`s Facebooks, they now face double barriers: obsolete enforcement instruments on the national front and international agreements that anchor these tools forever. . . .