FTAA Faces Opposition from Brazil, AIDS Groups
While President Bush is touting the Free Trade Area of the Americas as "one of his administration's highest priorities," he faces opposition from Brazil, which wants to retain the right to produce and import cheaper anti-AIDS drugs, the Washington Post reports. The FTAA aims to "knock down barriers and expand trade" between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America. The agreement would "harmoniz[e]" standards of imported food and other products, grant businesses access to raw materials from different countries and reduce tariffs levied on imports. Brazil, however, has displayed " reluctance" to accept the proposed provisions, since the country would "lose [its] ability to make or obtain generic versions of expensive anti-AIDS drugs." Although the FTAA could cause trade between Brazil and the United States to double or even triple within a few years, the country fears that it might also end up stopping its efforts to increase access to antiretrovirals (Blustein, Washington Post, 4/15). In addition, Brazil remains "defiant" over a complaint filed by the United States with the World Trade Organization that says a Brazilian law that allows the country to produce generic AIDS drugs violates international trade rules ( Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/30). The FTAA also faces opposition from AIDS activists in America, who feel the agreement would reduce access to antiretroviral drugs for people in developing nations. U.S. trade officials have "den[ied] that Brazil's acclaimed program for AIDS victims would be affected," but the protesters remain "far from quiescent," the Post reports. In addition, support for the FTAA may be difficult to muster in Congress, which is "deeply divided over trade" (Washington Post, 4/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.