Consumers slam government plans for tariffs on food imports

FARMERS WEEKLY: This has drawn stinging criticism from consumer group Consumer Choice Centre.

“Imposing tariffs on meat imports will not only put another burden on British consumers, but will also increase the costs of Brexit and send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain will pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests,” said spokeswoman Maria Chaplia.

Abolishing tariffs would help lower the price of meat by more than 3%, and encourage the meat industry to compete with the rest of the world, she added.


Brexit tariff warning issued to UK Government

Tariffs on meat imports would put “another burden” on British consumers

Ahead of Britain’s impending exit from the EU, lobby group Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said that unilateral tariff liberalisation on agricultural products was vital for making consumers better off and suggested that the UK’s potential gains from trade after Brexit could outweigh the costs.

Maria Chaplia, media associate at CCC, said imposing tariffs on meat imports would not only put another burden on British consumers but would also increase the costs of Brexit and send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain would “pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests”​.

“Along with fish, oil, and fats, meat is one of the few agricultural products exported by the UK. The abolishment of tariffs would have a significant positive impact on low-income households. More specifically, if the UK removes tariffs on meat, the price will decrease by 3.2% as a consequence of a higher supply,”​ said Chaplia.

She added that the UK Government had a decision to make when it came to which industry it was acting in favour of.

“The UK is a net importer of beef and unilateral liberalisation would have a considerable impact on the domestic market. Opening up the UK market will challenge the meat industry to compete with the rest of the world, which is what the Government seeks to protect it from. What is surprising is why the UK Government is turning a blind eye to the potential gains for consumers.

“In terms of the UK’s gains from trade after Brexit, unilateral liberalisation on agricultural products is a clincher. A no-deal Brexit would cost the UK 2.2% of GDP by 2030. However, unilateral liberalisation would help compensate up to 80% per cent of that reduction in real GDP. Before resorting to protectionism, the UK Government should consider whether it is the interests of one industry or the long-term benefits for all that matter more.”


Irish farmers voice fears over Brexit tariffs

The pro-free trade Consumer Choice Centre said tariffs would “put another burden on British consumers” and increase the costs of Brexit.


It would send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain would pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests, it claimed.

Consumer Choice Centre spokeswoman Maria Chaplia said: “Free trade is vital for consumer choice as it allows consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products at a lower cost.

“Interventions in the form of tariffs, non-tariff barriers or quotas hit consumers the hardest, and therefore should be avoided or decreased at all costs,” said Ms Chaplia.


International consumer group urges UK to rein in on tariff threat

An international consumer group has urged the UK to either abolish tariffs or keep them low in order to look after British consumers post Brexit.

Responding to the disagreements in the British Cabinet on post-Brexit food tariffs, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has emphasised the importance of trade liberalisation for keeping consumers in a strong position after Brexit.

UK’s potential gains from trade after Brexit “can outweigh the costs”, the CCC’s newest report finds.

Maria Chaplia, media associate at the Consumer Choice Center, said: “Imposing any tariffs on food will not only put another burden on British consumers and increase the costs of Brexit but will also send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain will pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests.

Free trade is vital for consumer choice as it allows consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products at a lower cost.

“Interventions in the form of tariffs, non-tariff barriers or quotas hit consumers the hardest, and, therefore, should be avoided or decreased at all costs,” said Chaplia.

The CCC representative warned that leaving the EU without a deal would cost the UK 2.2% of GDP by 2030.

“However, unilateral liberalisation would help compensate up to 80% of that reduction in real GDP.

Therefore, it is key that after Brexit the UK either fully abolishes its tariffs on food, or keeps them low.

“Much of the UK’s post-Brexit success will mainly depend on the UK’s ability to develop a comprehensive FTA [free trade agreement] with the EU, abolish import tariffs on agriculture, and build FTAs with other countries by embracing openness, deregulation and trade liberalisation and, conversely, neutralise and potentially even exceed the Brexit costs.

“If Brexit comes with tariffs on food, a small group of people, British farmers, will win while every British consumer will lose,” concluded Chaplia.


Tariffs impact every part of the food chain

The FDF’s comments were in response to a report by activist group the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), which claimed imposing tariffs on food would send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain would pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests.

Maria Chaplia, media associate at the CCC, said: “Free trade is vital for consumer choice as it allows consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products at a lower cost. Interventions in the form of tariffs, non-tariff barriers or quotas hit consumers the hardest, and, therefore, should be avoided or decreased at all costs.”


Chaplia went on to suggest a system of unilateral liberalisation – reduction or elimination of government regulations or restrictions on private business and trade – could counter a 2.2% dip in GDP by 2030, should the UK leave without a deal.

“Much of the UK’s post-Brexit success will mainly depend on the UK’s ability to develop a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, abolish import tariffs on agriculture, and build FTAs with other countries by embracing openness, deregulation and trade liberalisation and, conversely, neutralise and potentially even exceed the Brexit costs,”*​ she added.

“If Brexit comes with tariffs on food, a small group of people, British farmers, will win while every British consumer will lose.”

DEBATE: Should we slash post-Brexit tariffs on food imports to offer consumers cheaper goods?

Should we slash post-Brexit tariffs on food imports to offer consumers cheaper goods?

Bill Wirtz, policy analyst at the Consumer Choice Center, says YES.

Contrary what the protectionists will tell you, tariffs don’t only hurt the country upon which they are imposed.

If the government decides to maintain import tariffs on food post-Brexit, it is British consumers who will foot the bill for these duties in the form of higher prices. This is particularly devastating for low-income households, which spend the largest proportion of their income on food.

The UK should remember its bad experiences with tariffs on food. History buffs will recall the 19th-century corn laws, which were introduced to protect local producers against corn from France or Germany. The result of this isolated trade policy quickly became visible: while the British producers profited, the price of grain exploded in the 1830s.

The same economic principles apply today.

Remainers and Brexiteers alike should make it their mission to offer cheaper food and more choices to the British consumer. Tariffs just help farmers, whereas free trade benefits everyone.


Γιατί η Ευρώπη πρέπει να αφήσει τον Τραμπ να «κερδίσει» τον εμπορικό πόλεμο

Του Bill Wirtz

Η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση δηλώνει ότι είναι έτοιμη να ανταποδώσει τα νέα δασμολογικά μέτρα που θα προτείνει / εφαρμόσει η κυβέρνηση Τραμπ. Το να αφήσει όμως τον Τραμπ να “κερδίσει” τον εμπορικό πόλεμο θα ήταν πολύ εξυπνότερο.

Ο Τραμπ και οι δασμοί

Η αναφορά του ονόματος του Τραμπ στις Βρυξέλλες (την πρωτεύουσα της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης) προκαλεί έντονες αντιδράσεις. Ο Τραμπ δεν είναι μόνο αντιδημοφιλής, αλλά και θεωρείται στην καλύτερη περίπτωση απληροφόρητος και στη χειρότερη κακόβουλος. Το αν αυτά είναι ακριβή είναι μια άλλη ιστορία, όμως η διαμάχη σχετικά με τον εμπορικό πόλεμο αποκαλύπτει το επίπεδο του αναστοχασμού στην Ευρώπη. Πολλά λέγονται για τους δασμούς που επιβάλλονται επί των ευρωπαϊκών προϊόντων, και η ρητορική των Βρυξελλών είναι πως οι Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες ξεκίνησαν πρώτες τον εμπορικό πόλεμο, υποχρεώνοντας την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση σε ανταπόδοση.

Το γεγονός ότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση ήταν αυτή που εφάρμοσε πρώτη τους σημαντικότερους φραγμούς στο εμπόριο δεν τους πέρασε από το μυαλό.

Στις 18 Ιανουαρίου, η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση υιοθέτησε μια εντολή διαπραγμάτευσης για τις εμπορικές συνομιλίες με τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. Οι Βρυξέλλες ανακοίνωσαν ότι κάθε νέο μέτρο δασμών που θα λαμβάνεται από την Ουάσινγκτον, θα αντιμετωπίζεται με επιβολή ανταποδοτικών δασμών στην Ευρώπη.

Η Επίτροπος Εμπορίου της ΕΕ Cecilia Malmström προειδοποίησε πως αν ο Τραμπ αποφασίσει να τιμωρήσει τους Ευρωπαίους στο εμπόριο “έχουμε προχωρήσει την εσωτερική μας προετοιμασία ώστε να ανταποδώσουμε. Αν συμβεί αυτό είμαστε έτοιμοι, και θα έχει ένα ιδιαίτερα επιβλαβές αποτέλεσμα στις διαπραγματεύσεις” όπως δήλωσε.

Ο ρόλος των τροφίμων

Κατά το διάστημα 2010-2014, οι ΗΠΑ και η ΕΕ διαπραγματεύτηκαν τη Διατλαντική Εμπορική και Επενδυτική Σχέση (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – ΤΤΙΡ). Οι διαπραγματεύσεις τερματίστηκαν μετά από έντονες διαμαρτυρίες στην Ευρώπη που πίεσαν τις Βρυξέλλες να διακόψουν τις συνομιλίες. Καταστροφολόγοι ακτιβιστές εναντίον της ελευθερίας του εμπορίου προειδοποίησαν τους Ευρωπαίους έναντι της απειλής της εισαγωγής αγαθών από τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, όπως τροφίμων γενετικών μεταλλαγμένων οργανισμών.

Η εισαγωγή όμως τροφίμων που παρήχθησαν βάσει διαφορετικών προτύπων από τους κανονισμούς της ΕΕ δεν “υπονομεύει” κατ’ ελάχιστο τα ευρωπαϊκά πρότυπα. Εφόσον οι καταναλωτές γνωρίζουν την προέλευση των προϊόντων, η αμοιβαία αναγνώριση των προτύπων δεν απειλεί την νομοθεσία κανενός μέρους.

Μια έκθεση της Foodwatch, μιας γερμανικής ΜΚΟ που υποτίθεται ότι υπερασπίζεται τους καταναλωτές, αντιμετωπίζει ομοίως την ιδέα του ελεύθερου εμπορίου με περιφρόνηση. Αυτό καταφαίνεται με σαφήνεια σε ένα κεφάλαιο που αφορά τις εμπορικές σχέσεις του Μεξικού στη σελίδα 47. Οι ερευνητές γράφουν:

“Το 2001, το Μεξικό εισήγαγε έναν φόρο επί όλων των αναψυκτικών που χρησιμοποιούν γλυκαντικά εκτός της ζάχαρης από ζαχαροκάλαμο (πχ με ζάχαρη από τεύτλα, ή ισογλυκόζη, ένα σιρόπι που κατασκευάζεται από άμυλο καλαμποκιού ή σταριού). Η εξαίρεση των αναψυκτικών που χρησιμοποιούν ζάχαρη από ζαχαροκάλαμο προστάτευσε την παραγωγή ζαχαροκάλαμου της χώρας”.

Στη συνέχεια, εξηγούν ότι αυτού του είδους οι φόροι απειλούνται από τους εμπορικούς κανόνες του ΠΟΕ και ότι οι λομπίστες του κλάδου αντιτάσσονται σ’ αυτούς υποστηρίζοντας ότι αποτελούν “μια μορφή εμπορικής αρνητικής διάκρισης”. Η ΕΕ βεβαίως είναι γνωστή για τις πρακτικές εμπορικής διάκρισης που εφαρμόζει και έχουν ως στόχο την προστασία των δικών της παραγωγών, όπως τη διαβόητη απαγόρευση του βοδινού κρέατος που έχει υποστεί επεξεργασία με την ορμόνη 17β-οιστραδιόλη. Αυτού του είδους ο γεωργικός προστατευτισμός είναι πάντα ένα μείζον διαφιλονικούμενο σημείο στις εμπορικές διαπραγματεύσεις, οπότε είναι σίγουρα παράδοξο να αναδεικνύεται από τους ακτιβιστές εναντίον του εμπορίου.

Ο τόνος της έκθεσης υπογραμμίζεται από την παρακάτω δήλωση ενός από τους συγγραφείς της, του Thomas Fritz κατά τη συνέντευξη τύπου της Foodwatch: “Το συμπέρασμά μας είναι ότι λόγω αυτών των Συμφωνιών Ελεύθερου Εμπορίου, το εμπόριο τροφίμων όντως πιθανότατα θα αυξηθεί και μαζί μ’ αυτό θα αυξηθούν και οι κίνδυνοι για τους καταναλωτές και το περιβάλλον”.

Ξεχάστε τις ανησυχίες για τη δημοκρατία, τις δικαστικές διαδικασίες ή ακόμη και τα πρότυπα των τροφίμων: αυτοί οι ακτιβιστές αντιτάσσονται στο ελεύθερο εμπόριο ούτως ή άλλως, γιατί αυξάνει το εμπόριο τροφίμων. Για ποιον ακριβώς “κίνδυνο για τους καταναλωτές” μιλάμε; Τον κίνδυνο των περισσότερων επιλογών; Και σε ποιον ακριβώς “κίνδυνο” εκθέτουμε τους παραγωγούς της Νότιας Αμερικής; Στον κίνδυνο να αυξηθεί η παραγωγή και η οικονομική τους ευημερία;

Να αφήσουμε τον Τραμπ να “κερδίσει”, αψηφώντας τους ακτιβιστές που αντιτάσσονται στο ελεύθερο εμπόριο

Τι θα χρειαζόταν να γίνει για να “κερδίσει” ο Ντόναλντ Τραμπ τον εμπορικό πόλεμο; Ουσιαστικά, ο Τραμπ υποστηρίζει την εξάλειψη όλων των δασμολογικών και μη δασμολογικών φραγμών. Το μόνο που χρειάζεται να κάνει η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση είναι να πει στον Τραμπ “κέρδισες” και να ανακαλέσει τα ανταποδοτικά μέρα που εισήγαγε στο παρελθόν. Αυτό θα ανοίξει την αγορά προσφέροντας φθηνότερα προϊόντα στους Ευρωπαίους καταναλωτές και θα επιτρέψει στον Τραμπ να προσεγγίσει τον στόχο του μιας βάσης μηδενικών δασμών.

Αυτό όμως δεν πρόκειται να συμβεί καθώς η έννοια της “νίκης” είναι στον ίδιο βαθμό πολιτικοποιημένη στις Βρυξέλλες όσο και σε μια πολιτική συγκέντρωση του Τραμπ. ¨Ετσι, την επόμενη φορά που θα δείτε να γυρίζουν τα μάτια στην Ευρώπη όταν αναφέρεται ο εμπορικός πόλεμος, έχετε κατά νου ότι κι εδώ στη Γηραιά Ήπειρο, η κατάσταση δεν είναι στην πραγματικότητα καλύτερη.

Ο Bill Wirtz είναι Young Voices Advocate και εργάζεται ως αναλυτής πολιτικών στο Consumer Choice Center.

Why Europe Should Let Trump “Win” on Trade

The European Union says it’s ready to retaliate against new tariff measures proposed/instituted by the Trump administration. However, letting Trump “win” the trade war would be far smarter.

Mentioning Trump’s name in Brussels (the capital of the European Union) produces a lot of eye-rolls. Trump is not only unpopular, but he is also regarded as being uninformed at best and having malicious intent at worst. Whether or not those things are accurate is a story for another time, but the trade war debate reveals the level of self-reflection in Europe. Much is said about the tariffs imposed on European goods, and the narrative in Brussels is that the United States started the trade war, forcing the European Union to retaliate.

The fact that the European Union initiated the most important trade barriers didn’t occur to them.

On January 18, the European Union adopted a negotiating mandate for the trade talks with the United States. Brussels announced that every new tariff measure by Washington, DC, would be met with retaliatory tariffs in Europe.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström warned that if Trump decides to punish Europeans on trade, “we are very advanced in our internal preparations” to retaliate. “Should that happen, we are ready, it would have a very damaging effect on the negotiations,” she said.

Between 2010 and 2014, the US and the EU negotiated the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The negotiations ended after considerable public protests in Europe pressured Brussels to break-off the talks. Fear-mongering anti-free trade activists warned the public about the threat of importing goods from the United States, such as GMO foods.

However, importing goods produced to different standards than EU norms does not in the least “undermine” EU standards. Provided consumers are aware of the origin of their products, mutual recognition of standards poses no threat to anyone’s legislation.

report by Foodwatch, a German NGO pretending to stand for consumers, also treats the idea of free trade with contempt. This is well illustrated in a chapter on Mexican trade relations on page 47. The researchers write:

In 2001 Mexico introduced a tax on all soft drinks flavoured with sweeteners other than cane sugar (e.g. with beet sugar or isoglucose, a syrup made from corn or wheat starch). The exception for drinks sweetened with cane sugar protected the country’s own sugar cane production.

They continue by explaining that such taxes are being challenged under WTO trade rules and that industry lobbyists oppose them through the claim of “a form of trade discrimination.” The EU, of course, is well-known for trade discriminatory practices aimed at protecting its own producers, including its famous ban on beef treated with the estradiol-17β hormone.These activists would oppose free trade no matter what because it increases food trade.

Such agricultural protection is always a major sticking point in trade negotiations, so it is certainly an odd point for anti-trade activists to bring up.

The report’s tenor is exemplified by this statement from one of its authors, Thomas Fritz, during the Foodwatch press conference:

Our conclusion is that due to these FTAs [Free Trade Agreements], food trade is indeed likely to grow, along with the risks posed to the consumer and the environment.

Forget concerns about democracy, judicial procedures, or even those of food standards: these activists would oppose free trade no matter what because it increases food trade. “The risk to the consumer”—what risk are we talking about? The risk of falling food prices and increased quality? The risk of expanded choice? And to what “risk” are we exposing the producers in South America to? The risk of increased production and economic prosperity?

What would it take for Donald Trump to “win” the trade war? In essence, Trump supports getting rid of all tariff and non-tariff barriers. All the European Union needs to do is to tell the administration “you won” and drop the previously introduced retaliatory measures. This would open the market and provide cheaper goods for European consumers and enable Trump to approach his goal of a zero-tariff basis.

But that isn’t going to happen because the notion of “winning” is as politicized in Brussels as it is during a Trump rally. So next time you receive eye rolls at the mention of the trade war in Europe, recognize that over here on the old continent, we aren’t really any better.

Rice tariffs: who are we kidding on the EU’s “free trade”?

The European Union introduces tariffs on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar in an effort to protect Italian farmers. Another example of “free trade” à la European Union.

It was announced last Wednesday that tariffs on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar were being re-introduced, in order to fulfil safeguard clauses. The terminology here is telling. European farmers are supposed to be “safeguarded” from foreign competition. It was at the request of Italy the Commission already suggested structural tariffs in November, those starting at €175/tonne in the first year and then progressively dropping to €150 in the second year and €125 in the third year.

Back then, the proposal didn’t find a majority in the Council, and therefore bounced back to Berlaymont, which now confirmed its initial intention. Until now, Cambodia and Myanmar benefitted from the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, which unilaterally grants duty-and quota-free access to the world’s least developed countries (apart from arms and ammunition).

Italian MEP Tiziana Beghin said, according to Politico, that she had been fighting for a safeguard to protect Italian farmers since 2014, and said that the news was a “relief” for more than 4,000 enterprises and families.

The Five Star Member of the European Parliament surely completed a smart political move for her constituants, which benefit from new tariffs, or who have been misled into supporting them. More misled however have been those who for the longest time have believed that the goal of the European Union was to be in favour of free trade. What a disappointment that must be.

The European Commission writes in its press release:

“The initial request for trade safeguards on rice imports was tabled by the Italian government in February 2018 and supported by all other EU rice growing Member States (Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria).”

It is written in this way because either the Commission has absolutely no notion of what it means to have a vested interest, or because it realises itself that free trade does not exist in the European Union.

While rice-producing member states are naturally lobbied by their local rice farmers, consumers have nobody to speak on their behalf. Too many of the established consumer organizations have nothing to say on tariffs. In fact, it seems all too often that they back the protectionist far-left and far-right positions, in order to “protect jobs” and “support local production”.

To them, consumer prices seem irrelevant. In fact, the European consumer organization BEUC has nothing to say at all about the EU’s re-introduction on rice tariffs. Does it not matter to them that it is low-income consumers who will be hit the hardest by this form of indirect taxation?

This is not the first time this happens. The European Union constantly introduces new tariffs, and many have been added since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The reasons are diverse: often it is because the producing country is accused of subsidizing their local economy (which the EU does also through the Common Agricultural Policy), but a safeguard measure can be as blatantly protectionist as in the example of rice imports from Cambodia and Myanmar.

If you were to suggest something similar on a national level, you’d be accused of nationalism. If done on a Brussels-level, it is merely a safeguard.

Protectionism is purely ideological because it is based on sentimental beliefs. If we were to take nationalism out of the picture, it would be difficult to argue that international free trade would be disadvantageous while domestic free trade (say, between cantons or provinces) is advantageous. This is particularly true in large trading blocs such as the European Union. Aren’t French farmers also hurt by imports from Bulgaria?

And if internal subsidization processes of the EU are working to eliminate those differences within the bloc, then how is Bulgaria supposed to rise out of its economic hardships, if nobody can ever compete with Western Europe, make a profit and innovate? And what is the big threat anyway, when cheap food for our consumers is the result?

The price for the economic illiteracy of this entire process is footed by the European consumer, who is told that the Trump’s of the world are the problem with free trade. And while Washington D.C’s trade politics have indeed changed for the worse, they’re unparalleled in their doublespeak by an EU pretending to stand for free trade in the world, while catering to local interests in order to keep the bloc together.

Warum sollen Arme Zölle auf Medikamente zahlen?

Zeitgleich zum Weltwirtschaftsforum trifft sich Ende Januar unweit von Davos in Genf der geschäftsführende Vorstand der Weltgesundheitsorganisation. Erschütternde Nachrichten über erneute Ebola-Fälle aus dem Kongo sollten vermuten lassen, dass es sich bei diesem Vorstandstreffen hauptsächlich um die effektive Bekämpfung dieser schrecklichen Seuche drehen wird.

Hilfsmitarbeiter haben teilweise ihre Arbeit im Kongo ruhen lassen müssen, da es Gewalt und Übergriffe auf sie gab. Gleichzeitig wurden Regionalwahlen in zwei Provinzen verschoben, was mit der anhaltenden Ebola Epidemie begründet wurde, aber von vielen Menschen als politisches Manöver gegen die Opposition wahrgenommen wurde. Dies sorgte für zusätzliche Unruhen und macht die Arbeit von internationalen Hilfskräften noch schwerer. In solchen Situationen ist auf die geballte Kraft der Weltgesundheitsorganisation und deren UN Mandat zu hoffen.

Doch der 2017 gewählte und amtierende Generaldirektor, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, hat zu häufig andere Prioritäten als die akute Bekämpfung von ansteckenden Viren. Der ehemalige äthiopische Außenminister zeigt offen seine ideologisch motivierten Vorstösse im Kampf gegen nichtübertragbare Krankheiten (englisch: non communicable disease oder NCD), wie zum Beispiel Videospielsucht. Erst letzten Sommer machte die WHO Schlagzeilen mit der Anerkennung von Videospielsucht (gaming disorder) als Krankheit.

Während Videospiele hoffentlich nicht die Agenda des nächsten Vorstandstreffens füllen werden, besteht die Gefahr, dass deutlich mehr über nationale Gesundheitspolitik gesprochen wird als die internationale Bekämpfung globaler Seuchen. So stehen große Teile der Agenda im Lichte der sogenannten Access to Medicines Roadmap, die sich zwar zum Ziel setzt den Zugang zu Medikamenten weltweit zu verbessern, aber hauptsächlich Regierungen vorschlägt private Gesundheitsunternehmen zu enteignen und deren geistiges Eigentum ohne oder zu deutlich geringeren Lizenzgebühren zu verwenden. So spricht sich die WHO für verpflichtende Lizenzen an lokale Generikaproduzenten aus, die es erlauben die bestehenden Patente von forschenden Pharmafirmen zu ignorieren.

Während die WHO also der forschenden Privatwirtschaft den Kampf erklärt, verschweigt sie die eigentlichen Probleme, mit denen Patienten in Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern ringen.

Misswirtschaft und Korruption sorgen in diesen Ländern oft für eine schlechte oder sogar desolate Verteilung von bereits knappen Finanzmitteln im Gesundheitssektor. Anstelle Krankenhäuser zu modernisieren und die einfachsten aber notwendigen Materialien und Medikamente vorrätig zu haben, verschwinden sowohl Steuergelder als auch internationale Hilfszahlungen in den Koffern von korrupten Politikern und Mitarbeitern.

Aufgrund fehlender Rahmenbedingungen und mangelnder Infrastruktur kommen oft gespendete Medikamente und Impfstoffe erst gar nicht bei Patienten an. Von einem führenden Pharmamanager habe ich einmal gehört, dass seine Branche volle Warenhäuser mit AIDS-Medikamenten in mehreren afrikanischen Ländern hätte, diese aber leider nicht an die Patienten liefern könne. Gründe dafür liegen bei mangelnden Kühlketten, schlechten Straßen, aber auch korrupter Strassenpolizei und Übergriffen auf Ärzte.

Dies sind einige Punkte auf die sich die WHO konzentrieren könnte, falls sie wirklich effektiv das Patientenwohl steigern wolle. Zwei weitere, noch schneller wirksame, Maßnahmen wäre die einseitige Abschaffung von Mehrwertsteuern und Einfuhrzölle auf Medikamente. Besonders Schwellenländer wie China, Brasilien und Russland erheben oft hohe Zölle auf innovative Medikamente. So geht der Ökonom Matthias Bauer beispielsweise davon aus, dass chinesische Patienten über 5,5 Milliarden Euro durch die Abschaffung von Zöllen auf importierte Arznei sparen könnten. In Indien und Brasilien würde Freihandel die Medikamentenpreise fast halbieren.

Die oft finanzstarken Pharmaunternehmen könnten wichtig Partner in der Erschließung von benötigter Infrastruktur in diesen Ländern werden. Daher sollte die Weltgesundheitsorganisation solche Firmen nicht als Buhmann für Versäumnisse staatlicher Akteure ausmachen, sondern eher die wirklichen Gründe für schlechte Gesundheitssysteme und mangelnde Versorgung ausmachen: Korruption, Bürokratie und Protektionismus.

Während der Abbau von Korruption sicherlich ein langer Prozess ist, lassen sich Zölle einseitig und schnell abschaffen. Dies bedarf meist nur eines Erlasses des jeweiligen Landes. Ein schnelleres Zulassungsverfahren und ein einfacher Import von Medikamenten sind weitere Schritte die den Preis senken und Patienten einfacheren Zugang geben.

Proposed EU duties on rice would hurt European consumers, says #ConsumerChoiceCenter

European Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center Luca Bertoletti criticized the request and said that it’s time the European Union stopped pushing forward protectionism.

“The reasoning behind trade barriers is to protect a specific industry – in this case Italian rice growers – from competition. What’s usually overlooked though is that whilst taking the producer side, protectionist policies end up causing a great harm to consumers who get stripped of the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of free trade. The Italian government is simply asking to limit the affordability of rice,” said Bertoletti.

“The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the third largest trading partner of the EU. In 2017, co-operation with the ASEAN resulted in the output of more than € 227,3 billion in goods. As part of this economic engagement, the European Union has been actively trading with both Myanmar and Cambodia and therefore using the agricultural imports, in particular, rice, to feed up the EU market.

“Before employing another protectionist measure, the European Commission should ask itself whether it wants to ensure European consumers are able to enjoy a great supply of rice and consequently a favourable pricing or whether it is the unwillingness of one group to compete which matters more,” Bertoletti concluded.

Sorry Mr. Trump, we’re not “Chinese propaganda” on trade

This week, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to denounce several articles in the Des Moines Register as Chinese “propaganda ads” because of the facts presented on trade and tariffs.

Included was an article written by the Consumer Choice Center that revealed the impact of tariffs on communities in North and South Carolina, which could affect up to 150,000 jobs in the chemicals, transportation equipment, and machinery industries that rely on exports, more than 36 percent of them in the Charlotte area.

“There is no Chinese conspiracy on trade. The real conspiracy is against the American people, who suffer when tariffs are enacted and goods are made more expensive,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group located in Washington, D.C.

“The fact that the president would characterize factual analysis on the impact on workers and consumers as ‘Chinese propaganda’ reveals that this trade war has not been thought out. Ordinary men and women across America have to pay higher prices for products when tariffs are enacted in order to offset the imposed taxes. Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple.

“Pointing out the economic lunacy of enacting a trade war that will impact small and medium-sized businesses across the country, including the employees in those firms and at firms that rely on them, is vital and necessary, and the Consumer Choice Center will never cease from doing so,” said Ossowski.

“That’s why we launched the #freetrade4us campaign, and why we are seeing such great response from the consumers we represent who have already signed our petition for more free trade, not less.

“We hope the president reverses his policies on trade and tariffs and allows American businesses and consumers to enjoy low prices and free trade that can make everyone more prosperous.”

Free Trade For Us is a single-issue campaign produced by the Consumer Choice Center and supported by partners to raise awareness about the positive impact of free trade and to show policymakers all over the world that the millennial generation is united against tariffs, trade barriers, and retaliatory measures that only hurt consumers and workers.