Politico.com | 8 Oct 2014
Tobacco raises TPP concerns
By ADAM BEHSUDI
With help from Doug Palmer and Matthew Korade
A NEW U.S. TOBACCO PROPOSAL IN TPP? U.S. trade officials have denied they plan to offer a new tobacco proposal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Australia later this month. The pushback comes amid growing industry concerns that the United States is discussing the idea of prohibiting tobacco companies from bringing lawsuits against TPP governments under an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause.
“TPP countries continue to debate how to address tobacco public health issues in the agreement,” a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said. “The United States has not tabled any new U.S. proposal on tobacco products and is still engaged on congressional and stakeholder consultation on an appropriate approach. We do not expect to table a new proposal in Australia.”
Senate aides said a proposal would likely raise concern from senior Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Both have previously opposed attempts by the administration to single out tobacco for special treatment in the trade deal. McConnell, who represents a major tobacco-producing state, is particularly watchful of tobacco measures in trade agreements.
Tobacco has been a hot topic in the TPP talks. The U.S. proposed language last August that would affirm a country’s right to protect public health, including as it relates to tobacco use. Malaysia wants to go further, completely removing tobacco from the agreement’s ISDS and state-to-state dispute mechanisms. Industry sources said they heard the United States’ latest idea would allow a compromise, excluding tobacco just from the agreement’s ISDS provision.
Read the current U.S. tobacco proposal here: http://1.usa.gov/1bHcGoQ