New Western Hemisphere Trade Pacts Push Back Against Big Pharma


As Posted on American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies Blog, January 28, 2020

Two major trade agreements affecting the Western Hemisphere have recently struck blows against the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to keep drug prices high by limiting competition from generic medications. Big Pharma tried, but failed, to include provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the EU-MERCOSUR Association Agreement that would go beyond those expressly permitted by the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

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01/28/20. 09:03:00 pm. Categories: Articles ,

Protests Sweeping LatAm are Part of a Global Phenomenon, Financial Times, November 23/24, 2019

Michael Stott's Big Read article "A second 'lost decade'” (November 16) gives the erroneous impression that the mass protests sweeping Latin America are somehow peculiar to the region and therefore make it an outlier. However, they appear to be part of wider global phenomenon of people rebelling against a detached and self-interested political elite oblivious to the economic anxieties and suffering of the average citizen.

Hence, the Chilean case, in particular, is not much different from what is at the root of protests in countries such as France, Lebanon and Iraq, and what has upended the political system in places such as the US and the UK.

There is a certain irony that the ire of most Chileans over their country's rigged "free market" crony capitalist model is directed at their billionaire president, Sebastián Piñera, whose fortune was built on introducing the credit card to Chile in the late 1970's. Given meagre salaries and the exorbitant costs of basic services which are now almost all privatized, most Chileans cannot survive without access to credit.

Thomas Andrew O'Keefe,
Mercosur Consulting Group, Ltd.
New York, NY, US

11/27/19. 02:54:00 am. Categories: Financial Times ,

The EU-MERCOSUR Association Agreement: The Devil is in the Details



After two decades, the European Union and the four core MERCOSUR nations—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay—finally concluded negotiations for a trade agreement in Brussels on June 28, 2019. Officially known as the EU-MERCOSUR Association Agreement, the accord goes beyond strictly commercial topics to also foster inter-continental dialogue and political cooperation. In addition to the European Parliament, the political-economic agreement must also be ratified by each EU member state, as well as each MERCOSUR government. But before that can even happen, the text must be reviewed to remove internal legal inconsistencies, translated into the 24 official languages of the EU, and formally signed by the parties. This alone could take several months.

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08/26/19. 05:35:00 pm. Categories: Articles ,

EU-MERCOSUR: Does Their New Association Agreement Mean Much?


As Posted on American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies Blog on August 6, 2019

After nearly two decades of intermittent negotiations, the European Union and the four core MERCOSUR nations (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) have finally inked a trade agreement, but its real impact won’t be felt for years, if ever. When the negotiations began in the mid-1990s, the EU was the largest trading partner of the MERCOSUR countries, and the United States was number two. Today China is in first place, the European Union is second, and the U.S. is fourth, behind intra-Latin American trade (EU investors, however, continue to have the largest stock of foreign direct investment assets in the MERCOSUR region). When ratified, the EU-MERCOSUR Association Agreement, signed in Brussels on June 28, will exempt a little more than 90 percent of two-way trade from tariffs.

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08/07/19. 05:57:00 am. Categories: Articles ,

Latin America Takes on Big Pharma


As Posted on American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies Blog, February 19, 2019

For the past decade, Latin America has attempted to reduce the prices of high-cost medications through either joint negotiations, pooled procurement, or both, but so far with limited success. The incentive for reducing prices is that all Latin American countries have national health care systems, and in some cases (such as Colombia and Uruguay) are legally obligated to provide their citizens with any required medication free of charge and regardless of cost.

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02/19/19. 11:02:00 pm. Categories: Articles ,

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