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Countries’ Policy Space to Implement Tobacco Packaging Measures in the Light of Their International Investment Obligations: Revisiting the Philip Morris v. Uruguay Case

By Alebe Linhares Mesquita and Vivian Daniele Rocha Gabriel This Policy Brief aims to provide a concise analysis of the international investment dispute involving Philip Morris subsidiaries and the Republic of Uruguay. It depicts the main legal and political background that preceded the case, analyzes the decision reached by the arbitral tribunal, and assesses the award’s major regulatory and policy implications. It intends to contribute to the discussions on how and to what extent States can adopt tobacco control measures without violating their international obligations to protect the investment and intellectual property of tobacco companies. The main lesson that can be learned from the analysis of the Philip Morris v. Uruguay case is that investors rights are not absolute and can be relativized when there is a clash between private and public interests, such as in the case of public health. As a result, claims such as indirect expropriation and fair and equitable treatment can be dismissed. Finally, one of the main consequences is the progressive change in the design of international investment treaties, containing more provisions related to the right to regulate.

'Ticking Time Bomb': Corporate Lawyers Openly Discussing Suing Nations Over Profits Lost to Covid-19 Measures

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams. This is a major issue, Like Slovakia with its health insurance mess, in Achmea, once countries sign trade deals, they can't enact regulations that they need for common sense reasons, ISDS makes it impossible for countries to do things like close for epidemics, or limit business operations in needed ways, or (if they apply to foreign companies and their workers) It may even make it FTA illegal to raise minimum wages. Imagine if you could not fix deep seated problems like environmental risks, lack of affordable healthcare or rising education prices. That would be the US today. Thanks to ISDS and ISDS-like provisions in the WTO, now, for 20 years, corporations have always come first. This is why people can't be allowed to vote for improvements.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine, an amino acid nutritional supplement, could be investigated in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic

NAC as it is called is a food and the most important of several precursors of an important chemical in your body, glutathione. Along with glutamine, it may improve gut barrier function. and regardless, it is unlikely to hurt anything. It's proven itself very useful in colds where its sold in effervescent tablets for that use in Europe. They are popular. The highest natural source of cysteine is whey protein.

Farmers outraged water from drought-stricken regions "sold to China"

Conflict over water mining illustrates how FTAs are literally a global "Second Enclosure" of everything, giving global extractive industries rights to sell what they mine which would seem to conflict with what is basically common sense and expected behaviors by governments in the last century. (Both in the case of services, or goods, arguably the biggest shift occurred on January 1, 1995, the date the WTO came into force.) The problem is the rules have been changed and we, the people, are invariably the last to know. Goods and services of all kinds became tradable and once exported, even just a little bit, the entire shift is locked in (the ratchet, its called) and from that point onward all "measures" (basically any and every law and policy or lack of activity by governments at all levels, and quasi-governmental bodies) which impacts the "supply" of it in the commodity sense, for example, by reducing its value by restricting the sale (for example, the NHS reduces the value of health insurance even if few can afford it, it will have to be phased out in favor of market based services people can buy, if they are healthy enough, and dont have any genetic issues) A shift occurs such that providing it, (or that of "like" services, see the EC-Bananas case) are under the jurisdiction of international treaties, like the WTO's, and others, and all laws must conform to them at least by being minimally trade restrictive. Once it begins, all laws that conflict with international trade are subsumed to the rules of the trade body, like the WTO. So even if people are dying of thirst due to water being exported, or freezing to death of cold because the fuel has been exported, international trade export takes precedence. Similar to the Irish Potato Famine when lots of food was exported from Ireland (which was part of the UK, the richest country in the world at that time). People who got in the way were also exported, (transported) we may recall. To Australia which was a British colony.

Virus more transmissable than had been thought: New insights into the transmissibility of the virus

A joint press release by Charité, Munich Clinic Schwabing and the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology ( https://www.charite.de/en/service/press_reports/artikel/detail/novel_coronavirus_infectious_virus_detected_in_the_nose_and_throat_of_patients_with_mild_symptoms/ ) Laboratory testing by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology and Munich Clinic Schwabing has revealed that infectious virus can be isolated from nose and throat swabs even where these have been obtained from patients with mild symptoms. The research groups have therefore come to the conclusion that even persons with mild symptoms are capable of transmitting the virus.

Public services and the GATS, WTO Staff Working Paper, No. ERSD-2005-03, World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva

Adlung, Rolf (2005) Adlung is a WTO employee. The EU's social safety net is under attack. Partly due to neoliberal construction via FTAs of a new corporate "right of establishment" that nullifies rights to healthcare and education that have never been created in laws as we would hope. Also WTO rules allegedly against "discrimination" ironically are a tool that's being used to dismantle policies and laws against discrimination in countries like the US.

Global Trade and Public Health

"Global trade and international trade agreements have transformed the capacity of governments to monitor and to protect public health, to regulate occupational and environmental health conditions and food products, and to ensure affordable access to medications". (This basically means they have stolen the right to regulate, or are in the process of stealing it.)

GATS and Financial Services Deregulation by Patricia Arnold

Medicare, Social Security and other governmentally subsidized financial services are put in grave danger by the GATS - This paper by a noted professor in accounting who has written a great deal of highly readable material on the WTO and its interaction with financial regulation is a short and concise intro to many of the major issues, particularly the threats GATS poses to Social Security and Medicare if those areas are allowed to compete with commercial banks or insurers. Caution is needed because millions could see huge changes in their only retirement benefits just as they were needed the most if Social Security and/or Medicare lose their protection from GATS rules, which is likely if current proposals are implemented,- see the Annex on Financial Services.

GATS and Public Service Systems

This is a must-read article as its by far the most concise and understandable explanation of the "governmental authority exception" an all important "two-pronged test" or definition, that defines the scope of what is allowed to be a public service and what is not, in the GATS agreement. In other words, what is subject to privatization rules, and what isn't. This definition is also borrowed or imported, in the computer programming sense, "as is" into hundreds of other trade agreements all around the globe. So this essay is extremely useful in understanding which healthcare or higher education proposals could work (and which ones would be subjected to a death of a thousand cuts, and couldn't) for example. The essay was originally written and published by the government of British Columbia province in Canada.

How the World Trade Organisation is shaping domestic policies in health care

David Price, Allyson M Pollock, Jean Shaoul, THE LANCET - Vol 354 - November 27,1999, pp. 1889-1891 "Multinational and transnational corporations, including the pharmaceutical, insurance, and service sectors, are lining up to capture the chunks of gross domestic product that governments currently spend on public services such as education and health. The long tradition of European welfare states based on solidarity through community risk-pooling and publicly accountable services is being dismantled. The US and European Union governments are aggressively backing this project in the interests of their business corporations. But the assault on our hospitals and schools and public-service infrastructure depends ultimately on a promise from one government to another to expand private markets. Such promises can be kept only if domestic opposition to privatisation is held in check. We need to constantly reassert the principles and values on which European health-care systems are based and resist the WTO agenda"