New U.S. Trade Representative Plans to Uphold Policies Allowing Flexibility for Developing Nations
Robert Zoellick, the recently appointed U.S. trade representative, aims to "mak[e] clear" that the new Bush administration plans to uphold trade policies that will make cheaper AIDS drugs available to developing nations, the Washington Post reports. A "master strategist," Zoellick stated last month that he plans to maintain U.S. policies issued by the Clinton administration granting developing nations more flexibility to import or produce cheaper AIDS drugs. Zoellick said that the issue of AIDS medicines for developing nations provides "an important test of the administration's larger drive to increase the adoption of free-trade principles in the United States and around the world." While Zoellick stressed his support for global trade rules that protect patents and other intellectual property rights, he added that trade policies must be "fully aligned with our values." And while he "voiced concern" over a potential "backlash" against the drug industry for "aggressively asserting" its patent rights, Zoellick said that he must work with U.S. lawmakers to address the issue. "[T]o be successful, I and my compatriots have to get out front on these issues. And frankly, so should've the pharmaceutical companies. If they don't get ahead of this issue, the hostility that generates could put at risk the whole intellectual property rights system," he said (Blustein, Washington Post, 3/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.