TPPA–Time to Listen, not just be selective with Facts

January 20, 2016

TPPA–Time to Listen, not just be selective with Facts

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan

IWan Saiful Wan Jann a recent statement DAP Member of Parliament Charles Santiago, repeated his assertion that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would affect access to affordable medicine.  He cited the case of Jordan and claimed that the prices of medicine there increased by 20 per cent and the generic drug industry was wiped out six months after they signed a free trade agreement with the United States in 2001.

“I fully support YB Charles Santiago’s demand for the Ministry of Health to be more engaged and work together with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in communicating the impact of the TPP on healthcare in Malaysia,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Chief Executive of IDEAS.


“But is regrettable that the DAP MP was selective with facts to support his arguments and he turns a deaf ear when answers are given to address his concerns.” What has been deliberately omitted from the story about Jordan by opponents of the TPP are the two major benefits the country enjoyed as a result of its free trade agreement (FTA) with the US.

Wan Saiful added: “Firstly, Jordan saw increased investment in research and development and the introduction of new, innovative and effective drugs into the market. Liberalisation of the regulatory environment led to 78 new launches of innovative medicines within ten years, more than double Jordan’s pre-reform rate. The reforms catalysed by the FTA spurred local healthcare entrepreneurial activities leading to more products being developed by Jordanian companies such as the Jordan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company. The FTA helped Jordanian consumers access to new and innovative medicines, and this is good.”

Charles Santiago

“Secondly, Jordan enjoyed the introduction of best practices and international standards in the country’s industry. Prior to the reforms, only one Jordanian company was certified for Good Manufacturing Practises (GMP) and this raised questions about the quality of locally produced generics before reforms. After reforms, at least four more Jordanian companies achieved international GMP certification, enabling for more Jordanian produced generics to be used locally and exported for the regional and international pharmaceutical markets. Today, post-reform, Jordan has become the leading Arab exporter of drugs, exporting   cent of their production to some 66 countries.”

“It is telling that in November last year, Thailand, a country that depends on generic medicines extensively in its universal healthcare coverage scheme, has expressed its intent to join the TPP. Is YB Charles saying that the Thais don’t understand what they are getting themselves into?  The fact is, the reduction of trade barriers will allow the price of generic medicines to go down and this is good for health. Since Malaysia wants to use mostly generics in our healthcare system, we should focus on the wider positive benefits of TPP on the pricing of generics.” said Wan Saiful.

Wan Saiful concluded that “YB Charles has been a consistent anti-liberalisation campaigner and I respect him for his persistence. I am sure he and other anti-liberalisation campaigners will continue nit-picking to oppose the TPP.  But being selective with facts and refusing to listen when answers are given is not the way to handle this issue.”

* IDEAS is an independent not-for-profit think tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges.

16 thoughts on “TPPA–Time to Listen, not just be selective with Facts

  1. Yes, everybody has a good point to make… but what nobody has been able to explain is the secrecy aspect of the negotiations…

    If there is nothing to hide why talk in secret? Perhaps a new form of democracy taking shape?

  2. Medicine is not the only sector that will be badly affected by the TTP.

    I find it strange that people think those international think tankers and lobby groups in the pay of global corporate elite would go to work every day thinking only of Malaysia’s best interests and the best interests of each individual nation whose hands they intend to bind to the schemes they have designed for them.

    To my reading, this is an instrument to further the agenda of global control, what we can and cannot do more and more will be decided in some boardroom abroad and by others whom we presume know more about our conditions and priorities and our hopes and dreams than we ourselves do, whom we presume are a lot wiser than we are in our own affairs, who have our best interests at heart and who care more about us than we ourselves do.

    To quote someone analysing the issue, these new treaties represent ‘the ultimate coup de grâce of the ultimate coup d’état’ when nation states ultimately sign away their sovereignty to multinational corporations. Prime ministers and ministers come and go in a few short years but the consequences of losing our sovereignty will be suffered by the entire people for generations to come. Let those in the positions of responsibility consider this matter thoroughly and have the foresightedness to imagine the consequences of giving away our sovereignty to foreign and unknown powers and decision makers.

    If we’re not careful, the day will come when you couldn’t even make a simple herbal remedy for sore throat without breaking one TTP rule or another, for ultimately, this is where it is leading up to.

  3. The World Health Organization has come up with a model list of essential medicines. This is especially useful for developing countries which want to control healthcare costs. More than 100 countries have also come up with similar lists.

    What is the advantage of having access to lots and lots of branded/proprietary drugs that are expensive and not on such lists?

  4. IDEAS is independent of big corporates?🤑
    Part of atlas network, part of ayn rand’s inspired atlas shrugg elite 1% network? Look who is talking, avoiding the issue of TPPA is a mere big coporate agenda.

  5. One of the big donor of atlas network which IDEAS is part of is Sarah Scaife Foundation. See what some Muslims in America have to say :-
    The Sarah Scaife Foundation’s “grant program” is primarily directed toward public policy programs that address major domestic and international issues.”

    The foundation is chaired by Richard Mellon Scaife, a donor known for his largess regarding conservative issues. The Sarah Scaife Foundation is part of the outer core of the U.S. Islamophobia network.

    According to its 2012 IRS form 990, the Foundation gave $175,000 to the Center for Security Policy and $225,000 to the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The following year, the Sarah Scaife Foundation’s 2013 Annual Report included approved grants of $175,000 to the Center for Security Policy and $300,000 to the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

  6. More on Scaife foundation that support atlast network in which IDEAS is part of.
    he Scaife Foundations’ support for groups like the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Hoover Institution have been instrumental in pushing right-wing domestic and foreign policy agendas, from the anti-communism of the 1970s to the neoconservative ideas that influenced the George W. Bush administration’s “war on terror.”[3]

    TheNew York Times’ July 2014 obituary of Scaife stated that his “support for right-wing causes laid the foundations for America’s modern conservative movement.”[4] According to the Conservative Transparency website, the Scaife Foundations gave a total of $635 million during the period 1985-2012.[5] A 1999 Washington Post profile of Scaife also credited his philanthropy as having had a singular role in nurturing the conservative movement: “[B]y concentrating his giving on a specific ideological objective for nearly 40 years, and making most of his grants with no strings attached, Scaife’s philanthropy has had a disproportionate impact on the rise of the right, perhaps the biggest story in American politics in the last quarter of the 20th century.”[6]

  7. It’s a pleasure to read intelligent postings like ATY’s which can see the big picture, unlike those who claim their selective facts are better than others’ selective facts. Selective facts do possess some hierarchy: those that are on the side of the massive majority of the world’s disenfranchised and impoverished – the 80 percent or so whose wealth trailed behind the world’s 1 percent – must be prioritized over those that seek to increase the totalitarianism of the corporate types.

    There’s no doubt that many uncommitted nations that refuse to join the TPP and other similar corporate concocted paradise would come under increasing pressure to do so. In order to confront the machinations of the international ruling class, it might be time to form a world-wide resistance movement that would oppose blatant neoliberal ideologies at home and abroad.

  8. Dear katasayang 11:34 pm

    Yes, I am aware of the efforts of certain rich American people and their allies to fund right-wing think tanks in US and throughout the world.

    The US equivalent of IDEAS is the Cato Institute.

    The most influential right-wing think tanks in the USA and UK include the following:

    Heritage Foundation
    American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
    Hoover Institution
    Institute for Economic Affairs
    Adam Smith Institute

    They also fund right-wing academicians in the USA generously.

  9. Dr Phua, you said it well. It is sad and strange would adopt a neoliberaliam instead of a social liberalism ideal in tppa.
    The neoliberal project is to turn the “nation-state” into a “market-state,” one with the primary agenda of facilitating global capital accumulation unburdened from any legal regulations aimed at assuring welfare of citizens. In summary, neoliberalism seeks unbridled accumulation of capital through a rollback of the state, and limits its functions to minimal security and maintenance of law, fiscal and monetary discipline, flexible labor markets, and liberalization of trade and capital flows.[113]

    As opposed to social liberalism.
    Social liberalism is a political ideology that seeks to find a balance between individual liberty and social justice. Like classical liberalism, social liberalism endorses a market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights and liberties, but differs in that it believes the legitimate role of the government includes addressing economic and social issues such as poverty, health care, and education.[1][2][3] Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual.[4] Social liberal policies have been widely adopted in much of the capitalist world, particularly following World War II.

    The above article from a well known social liberal said it well on why Malaysians should reject TPPA, not on the grounds made by antiglobalist, but on simple idea that a government should be made more efficient, and not to have no say in all trades.

    The notion �absolute freedom� is false. It�s like putting someone in the middle of the desert and saying �you are free�. There you are, without any protection, without drinking water, without compass. Ill, older and handicapped people need tools to practice their freedom. Children need reliable education to receive the knowledge and capacities to make their own descisions in their later life. People needs an effective legal system, not only for the protection of their property and personal rights, but also to protect their human dignity. As Martha Nussbaum says, an effici�nt state is necessary for people without �fundamental capabilities� to maximize their right on self-determination.

  11. First, Wan Saiful should be congratulated for what he wrote in TheEdge Malaysia on 15 Sept 2014:

    “Let me clarify my own position here. I am personally not too bothered about whether or not Malaysia signs TPPA or the MEUFTA [Malaysia EU Free Trade Agreement]. What is more important to me is that we liberalise and structurally reform our economy. I see the TPPA and MEUFTA as merely tools to catalyse reform. ¶ My ideal situation is unilateral liberalisation. Hong Kong and Singapore decided to unilaterally liberalise and they are leaps and bounds ahead of us . . . . Two issues in particular have become stumbling blocks, namely government procurement and the role of government-linked companies. Instead of utilising the TPPA to catalyse long-term and much-needed reform of the two, our government seems to have surrendered to protectionist lobby groups. ¶ The short-termism results in our negotiators trying very hard to include in the TPPA various exemptions in these two areas. But if they really want to push the country towards prosperity, they should grab the opportunity presented by the TPPA to radically reform the government procurement system to make it more rules-based and competitive. ¶ They should also use the TPPA to drastically reduce the role of government in business. . . ¶ The government keeps saying that it will not sign the TPPA unless it can guarantee national interest. My worry is that when it says “national interest”, it is really thinking about groups with vested interest, crony businesses and pseudo-entrepreneurs drooling for taxpayer-funded contracts . . . . Protecting crony capitalists and pseudo-businessmen is not in the national interests.”

    What has been deliberately omitted from the story about Jordan by opponents of the TPP are the two major benefits the country enjoyed as a result of its free trade agreement (FTA) with the US . . . . Today, post-reform, Jordan has become the leading Arab exporter of drugs, exporting cent of their production to some 66 countries.”

    I, like many, choose to listen to “answers”, rather, what superficially appears to be answers, not just from home sources but from far beyond the horizon — from data-streams travelling through curved cyberspace, and they are infinitely more varied, and also like the local variety may not always be balanced — but in totality they do provide the impetus to analyse issues critically.

    The following quotes from an article by a native Jordanian commentator Aysha Al-Shamayleh writing in April 2013 edition of VENTURE magazine gives another perspective to the extended story of the Jordan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (JUSFTA)

    “Ever since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in April 2000, Jordan has been a firm proponent of free trade . . . ¶ After all, free trade is hailed as an effective economic development policy, particularly for developing countries . . . . A bilateral FTA, such as the Jordan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (JUSFTA), is a trade pact that governs the free-trade relationship between two nations . . . ‘An agreement is not like signing a membership club, as in paying fees and entering. There are exchanges of commitments on both parties,’ Talal Abu Ghazaleh, member of the WTO’s panel on Defining the Future of Trade, told Venture. ¶ In fact, the odds begin to stack up against a developing country, like Jordan, during the negotiation process. ¶ ‘In general, it is true; when a poor country is in negotiation with a big, rich country, it’s in a weak</b position,' [DirectorGeneral of the WTO Pascal] Lamy said at the WTO Arab Consultation Forum last February. Industrialized nations, and specifically a superpower like the United States, have more leverage due to their economic and political might. In the end, such countries will only agree to conditions that are advantageous to them. ¶ Officials cite the JUSFTA as an undeniable success story, yet a closer look at the numbers over the last decade shows that Jordan’s gains from this FTA have, so far, been limited. ¶ Abu Ghazaleh, who commissioned an ongoing study about the economic impacts of FTAs on the Jordanian economy at his organization, said, ‘Our assessment is that, unfortunately, these agreements [with industrialized nations] did not serve the interests of Jordan. I think that when these agreements were signed, notenough attention was given to the nature of the trade between the two countries. [The agreements] were not based on a study; they were just done on, probably, a blueprint agreement.’ Prior to the implementation of the JUSFTA, the US government issued three research reports published by the . . . All three reports concluded that the JUSTFA’s impacts on total US exports, imports, production, and employment are negligible. Sadly, no studies were made on the official impact on Jordan by the Jordanian government. ¶ Jordan’s enthusiasm about entering the JUSFTA was based on the hope that Jordanian exports would gain better access to the American market. ‘Many developing countries have signed bilateral agreements with industrialized nations. The main goal was to open developed countries’ markets, [their] high purchasing power, and larger populations to developing countries’ industrial and agricultural products,’ Ahmad Hindawi . . . told Venture . . . . This means Jordan already had considerable access to US markets before the FTA. It also means that once all tariffs were removed, US exporters’ costs went down by 16 percent, while Jordanian exporters’ costs went down by a mere 6 percent. ¶ Regardless of eliminated US tariffs on Jordanian exports, the report confirms that “the major constraint to entering the US market is approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as filing with the agency requires certification and a $300 million investment.” Only industry giants, such as Hikma Pharmaceuticals, have been able to obtain FDA approvals. Hence, the hope that signing the JUSFTA would give Jordanian exports access to a larger market was not exactly realistic. ¶ The initial enthusiasm that surrounded the JUSFTA was justified, but only between the years 2001 and 2006. . . . To take a sectoral look at the economic outcome of the JUSFTA . . . Jordan’s apparel companies are considered the major beneficiaries of the JUSFTA, since they once represented the one major exporting sector. According to a study by Chemonics International, apparel exports accounted for about 87 percent of total Jordanian exports between 2001 and 2006, during which period trade with the United States was growing exponentially. However, the vast majority of apparel factories in Jordan have always been foreign-owned, and have always employed cheap Asian labor. Hence, the benefits of the rapid increase in apparel exports to the United States after 2001 weren’t captured by Jordanians, but mostly by foreign firms and foreign labor. . . . Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry is heavily cited by officials as the second major beneficiary of the JUSFTA. Ahmad Hindawi describes it as a large Jordanian exporter that is ‘internationally recognized,’ and which benefits from FTAs with industrialized nations. Yet pharmaceutical exports are severely limited by the rigid American Food and Drug Administration approval system. ¶ The numbers show that pharmaceutical companies’ gains from JUSFTA were modest. In 2006, although Jordanian pharmaceutical exports grew, they only represented 0.5 percent of Jordan’s total exports to the United States, according to the University of Michigan’s report. More recently, in 2012, Jordan-U.S. trade in pharmaceuticals accounted for 0.8 percent of total Jordanian exports. So Jordanian pharmaceutical exports to the United States grew by a negligible 0.3 percent since 2006. ¶ Between 2001 and 2006 Jordan actually benefited from the JUSFTA as exports to the United States were growing, . . . Yet, 13 years later, the director-general of the WTO admits that “imports from the U.S. and EU have grown [more] rapidly than [Jordanian] exports.” ¶ Unfortunately, exports to the United States continue to fall to this day; between 2007 and 2012, they contracted by about 10 percent from $1.3 billion to $1.1 billion, according to data by the Department of Statistics. During the same period,imports from the United States continued to increase exponentially, growing by a jarring 119 percent, from $629 million to $1.4 billion. The surge in US imports represents a major threat to local industries that struggle to compete against foreign products. . . . WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO The process of reaping benefits from FTAs with industrialized countries does not end with the signing of an agreement; it simply begins there. ‘[An FTA] remains a country decision. It can be coherent with what the country does in its trade policy, industrial policy, services modernization policy, education policy, innovation policy, or intellectual property policy. It’s up to the country to establish the necessary coherence,’ Lamy asserted.”

    The last sentence states unequivocally what it takes for Malaysia to benefit, if at all, from membership of the TPPA — establishing coherence — demanding at the very least, over and above the conditions stated above, that, “Gradually, NEP . . . become irrelevant since our government can no longer [subsidize] bumiputra elites and rent seeking cronies without going bankrupt [and] to adjust and restructure our economy, and that means phasing out NEP policies and make incentives work and building a robust nation of rugged individuals and companies [as per note by Dato’ Din to my thread under, “Politics aside–TPPA is Good for Malaysia” of January 16, 2016

    There’s no free lunch.

    Lastly, I wish to repeat Isa Manteqi’s pointed question: If there is nothing to hide why talk in secret?


    N.B: emphases in bold are mine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.