Opinion

U.S. needs to obey, not appease, allies

When in the name of national security, the United States threatened Bayer with copying Cipro, the firm’s patented antibiotic for anthrax, unless the German chemical giant did not lower its prices, it almost joined the ranks of the third world countries that it has been carping on for stripping patents from North-American pharmaceutical companies.

These countries, such as Brazil, India and African nations, usually copy a patented medication in national laboratories and render production much cheaper, without paying the pharmaceutical company a penny. While these companies invested billions of dollars in research, it is also true that these countries have health issues that may, too, threaten national security.

The free treatment that Brazil accords to AIDS patients helps keep a largely poor segment of the population alive and well. Keeping them healthy with government-subsidized drugs that inhibit the replication of the AIDS virus is cheaper than treating them in hospitals every time they get the flu.

The UN lauded Brazil’s treatment plan for its humanitarian effort. The program proved that, if people were armed with enough information, they would take the medication as directed – regardless of their level of education. Brazil’s treatment policies and HIV/AIDS education campaign have inspired similar action by African countries ravaged by the epidemic.

The fight over patent protection may now lose steam as the United States steps up its efforts to build an international coalition to continue its crackdown on terrorism and rebuild Afghanistan. It will appeal to world leaders, claiming its fight against terrorism is a fight all countries should join. It will continue to vehemently denounce countries it claims harbor terrorist groups, vow to punish the ones which do and ask its allies to do the same. This war propaganda sounds very good but will only succeed with real schmoozing.

Developing countries will gladly join the alliance against terrorism – but only if they get something in return. And the United States will probably have to ignore past contentions to gain their cooperation. With no internal strife to worry about but serious economic contentions with developed countries, nations such as Brazil will seize the opportunities to demand flexibility from rich countries. They will try to gain access to normally closed markets in products where they have a comparative advantage, such as agriculture and raw manufacture.

Russia, a strategic ally, will step up its campaign to play down the alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya that have long thwarted its entry into the WTO. It will seize its golden ring to claim Chechen rebels have ties to Al-Qaeda. If the United States wants Russia on its side, it will have to buy into the Russian argument – just as it suddenly forgot China’s human rights abuses against the Falun Gong earlier this fall. The United States had long decried China’s crackdown on Falun Gong followers but was conveniently silent when the communist country bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games (which it will) and its entry to the WTO, which was approved on Monday.

While it costs $211 to make a steel plate in the United States, it costs $153 to make the same in Brazil. Yet the United States has stringent barriers that stave off the entry of Brazilian steel into the American market. The U.S. government claims the trade barriers are to protect the country from “dumping” practices – the selling of goods at prices well below the product’s cost. It chooses to subsidize the American steel industry while paying more for a product that could be bought for significantly less.

But steel is not alone. U.S. farmers – a powerful economic constituency – are too heavily subsidized and continuously lobby to restrict the influx of foreign agricultural products.

But now its seems the United States can no longer afford to appease its protected industries. If it wants its allies to support its efforts (or at least pretend they do) and to successfully court new friends, it will have to bow to their demands.

Mauricio Vieira is a public relations graduate student in the School of Communications.

November 20, 2001

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The night after FIU gave away a game to the University of Miami with a ninth-inning passed ball that ...

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Allison left the University of Miami football program on Tuesday. ...

Closer Frankie Bartow stared into the Panthers’ dugout immediately after fanning the final batter of ...

Go ahead. Try telling former University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya that his critics say he gets ...

University of Miami redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Allison, who left the Hurricanes football pro ...

UM marks Holocaust Remembrance Day with a reading of names and recollections of a survivor. ...

A recent paper argues that not only have researchers just scratched the surface of analyzing the Ama ...

The period of the first 100 days in office is a telling gauge for a president's full term in th ...

UM students, staff and faculty join the worldwide march to end men’s violence against women. ...

Greek Week at the University of Miami is committed to raising money and awareness for United Cerebra ...

Images from @CanesMensTennis win over Boston College. ...

Sinead Lohan and Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team were both among the ni ...

The University of Miami track and field team will wrap up the 2017 outdoor track and field regular s ...

The Miami Hurricanes travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass., for a weekend series with host Boston College b ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team is set to return to the Rome Tennis Center at Berry C ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.