U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement: Public Health Report Card
Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health | May 31, 2007
By Ellen Shaffer and Joe Brenner
Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health
The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) continues the practice of corporate hijacking global trade negotiations to the benefit of transnational drug and tobacco companies, and at the expense of people's health. It threatens core protections for public health, long under fire from NAFTA's notorious Chapter 11.
Despite mounting calls for democratic participation in trade policies relevant to public health, labor and the environment, the U.S. Trade Representative failed to involve its own advisory committees, members of Congress, and the public in negotiating key provisions of KORUS.
The agreement would:
- Affect reimbursement rates for hospital drugs covered by Medicare and drugs provided in community clinics in the U.S.
- Raise drug prices in Korea. Many Koreans already cannot afford life-saving drugs, and the national health program's budget is strained.
- Reverse recent tobacco controls in Korea, where 67 percent of men smoke and cancer is the leading cause of death.
- Subject water and sanitation services to privatization and deregulation in the U.S. and Korea.
- Strengthen NAFTA-style corporate rights that encourage frivolous trade challenges against public health protections, at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers.
"Public health, Congress and the public at large have a right to a voice on these critical trade policies before the ink is dry," according to Dr. Ellen R. Shaffer, Co-Director of the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH). Instead, the US Trade Representative and the Bush Administration have championed a corporate agenda which fails America and endangers our future health.
- Access to affordable medicines
- Tobacco control
- Democratic participation by public health and transparency in trade policy
- Protect vital human services such as health care, water supply and sanitation
- National, regional and local government sovereignty to protect population health
- Sustainable economic development
- Alcohol beverage control
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