What Oxfam is doing
Oxfam is advocating for a new trade policy that spreads the benefits of trade in developing countries by placing development at its core.
In particular, the US must strengthen the multilateral trading system; prioritize the completion of a pro-development trade deal at the World Trade Organization (WTO); and expand trade preference programs, including passage of legislation providing for duty-free and quota-free market access for all least developed countries (LDCs). This would send a clear signal of a break with old, flawed trade policies focusing on bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs).
As trade negotiations at the WTO fail to make significant progress, the US has turned to bilateral and regional FTAs, and new pluri-lateral agreements, as a means of forging new markets for US goods and services. But FTAs in the Americas, Africa, and Asia could devastate millions of poor people. Oxfam is working to defeat such trade agreements that threaten people's rights to livelihoods, local development, and access to medicines.
More specifically, Oxfam is calling for the following:
Restart the WTO talks and get the Doha Development Agenda back on track to make global trade more open while addressing developing country needs. The new US administration should take leadership early on to move forward WTO negotiations on the basis of the original Doha agenda, thereby reaffirming the priority of the multilateral system and the imperative of placing development needs at the heart of the agenda.
Enact legislation providing trade preferences to all LDCs while also improving upon existing preference programs. Congress should make it a priority to enact a bill to provide duty-free and quota-free access to the US market for all LDCs, while authorizing funds for trade capacity building to promote small businesses, agricultural development, and poverty reduction. An example of such a bill is the New Partnership for Development Act (H.R. 3905).
Put an end to bilateral FTAs, such as the one proposed with Colombia, because they impose far-reaching rules that undermine development.
Ensure that any new trade agreement, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being negotiated with 7 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, does not impose far reaching rules that undermine development and access to affordable medicines.
Ensure that the US government does not sign new trade agreements, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), introduce new legislation, or adopt new multi-lateral conventions which would result in the confusion of legitimate generic medicines with falsified medicines manufactured by criminal networks. Such confusion can result in serious new barriers that would prevent affordable generic medicines from reaching poor people in developing countries.
Ensure that the US government does not pressure developing countries that are using public health safeguards, such as compulsory licensing, to ensure access to affordable medicines. In particular, the U.S. Trade Representative should not use the annual Special 301 Report to criticize intellectual property provisions in developing countries that promote and protect public health.