Letter from AFL-CIO Director of Public Policy David Smith, to US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick concerning PhRMA's 301 Submission.

March 2, 2001

Ambassador Robert Zoellick
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20506

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

It has come to the AFL-CIO's attention that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) presented an extensive Special 301 Submission to the USTR on February 20, 2001. PhRMA is requesting that the U.S. government file Section 301 cases against four countries - Argentina, India, Israel and Taiwan; place fourteen countries on the Priority Watch list and name 19 other countries, including South Africa, to the Watch list under Special 301.

As you know, the AFL-CIO strongly supports the Executive Order on Access to HIV/AIDS Pharmaceuticals and Medical Technologies issued on May 10, 2000. We were pleased to learn that the Bush Administration has no plans to rescind this Executive Order and urge you to provide firm public assurances to developing countries that HIV/AIDS programs which allow compulsory licensing and parallel importation in health emergencies are considered by the U.S. government to be TRIPS legal and will not be challenged under U.S. trade laws.

This issue is urgent in South Africa where our trade union colleagues are fighting for those whose lives hang in the balance. The Pretoria High Court begins to hear a case this Monday, March 5th, brought by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa, among 42 petitioners, against the South African government to block the implementation of a section of a South African law which would allow generic production and parallel importation of drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

We strongly urge that you resist the request to place South Africa on the Special 301 watch list and that you give priority consideration to the health and development consequences in all of the cited actions before commencing any action under Section 301.

The AFL-CIO believes that all governments, including ours, must take urgent steps to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We look forward to working with you in your capacity as United States Trade Representative to address this global problem.


David Smith, Director
Public Policy Department

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