A “carve out” means an exclusion of tobacco products from the rules and benefits of the trade agreement. In effect, it gives complete protection for governments to regulate tobacco without fear of violating the trade agreement and being sued by the tobacco industry for doing so.
Current trade agreements require drastic change
Tobacco must be listed as an exception under all product references, removing its ability to benefit from free trade benefits between countries. This would not hurt any other products that benefit from the trade agreements because the exclusion would be product-specific.
Trade agreements allow the tobacco industry to drag governments before foreign trade tribunals and demand that anti-tobacco regulations be removed or weakened. Oftentimes, these cases are not about winning but are instead meant to impose the huge costs of litigation on governments, which governments must pay even if successful in their defense.
Unlike other products that can become harmful when abused or overused, there is no “safe” use or amount of tobacco. The tobacco industry simply seeks to increase consumption of tobacco, while ASH and its public health allies seek a higher level of global health. There is no “happy medium” to be found between the tobacco industry and the public health community.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a free trade treaty currently being negotiated between the U.S. and eleven countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. It will become the largest regional trading bloc in the world once completed, ideally in 2013.
Negotiations for The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TTIP) between the U.S. and the European Union began in July 2013. It will be even bigger than the TPPA. In both negotiations, the U.S. is pushing for the right of corporations, including Big Tobacco, to directly sue governments in foreign trade tribunals. This ability to directly sue a government is a “chill” tactic used by Big Tobacco to discourage governments from implementing tobacco control regulations so as to avoid the cost of defending themselves in court against the tobacco industry, who can afford to drag out the cases for a long time. Learn more about the threat and opportunity of the TPPA>
Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
In July 2013, negotiation started for a free trade agreement that will be even bigger than TPPA, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and the 28 countries of the European Union. Several European countries have made great strides in fighting the tobacco epidemic, and may want to protect their laws from corporate lawsuits. Learn more about TTIP>
The WHO estimates that 1 billion people will die from tobacco this century unless drastic actions are taken. One of those critical actions to take is carving tobacco products out of trade agreements. It is impossible to predict how many lives hang in the balance of the trade debate, but it is certainly millions worldwide.