The Pacific Alliance, a threat to tobacco control? Analysis of an “under the radar” trade pact
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University of California San Francisco, School of Nursing, United States of America
University of California San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A621
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There has been robust debates about the impact of trade agreements, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), on tobacco control. However, the potential impact on tobacco control of a multi-lateral trade agreement to increase trade in the Pacific region, the Pacific Alliance (PA), established in 2011 and with 52 observer countries, has not been discussed.

Analysis of publicly available written records on the PA and news media archives, triangulated with key informant interviews.

The PA (currently PA countries are Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), representing a market of over 200 million people, is actively engaged in exploring trade partnerships with TPP countries (e.g. PA trade agreement with New Zealand). This engagement became stronger as the TPP countries are evaluating the impact of the US's departure. This expansion includes a formal advisory business council, composed of business representatives, including a former tobacco industry executive. In light of the uncertainties surrounding the TPP, media reports indicate tobacco companies are quickly considering the PA as an opportunity to consolidate business in Latin America to gain access to Asia Pacific markets. Meanwhile health-related discussions within PA have been minimal. Similar to the TPP the PA has an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which allows corporations to directly challenge public health regulations. However, unlike the TPP there are no exemptions for tobacco and no clarity on tobacco control, raising concerns of the impact of trade agreements on tobacco control.

Tobacco control community needs to take the offensive in monitoring the developments of the PA and their potential impact on tobacco control. There are opportunities to engage in dialogue and advocacy with the 4 founding countries, encouraging a whole of government approach that considers trade and health, ensuring that the PA does not have a negative impact on public health.