5 p.m., May 26
Big Tobacco To Participate In Trans-Pacific Trade Talks In San Diego
On Monday, government officials from Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, Vietnam and the U.S. will converge on the Hilton Bayfront to discuss the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which would promote trade between growing nations in Asia and the U.S. and other countries located along the Pacific Rim.
According to documents from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, if approved the agreement has the potential to amount to 40 percent of the world's trade and boost the economies of each member-country.
But government officials aren't the only ones planning on attending the eight-day trade talks. Lobbyists from Big Tobacco will also be offering their opinions on the matter.
Activists from Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health say their motives are clear; to "circumvent tobacco control regulations in the U.S., as well as in Uruguay, Norway, Ireland and Peru. Philip Morris International and other companies are using trade rules to delay or overturn public health measures that stop kids from starting to smoke, including graphic warning labels on cigarette packs," reads a statement.
"Big Tobacco is coming to San Diego, one of the most anti-smoking cities in the U.S., to push their "Merchants of Death" agenda through the Trans Pacific Partnership."
The presence of Big Tobacco only adds to the tension which usually accompanies trade summits. Protests are already planned for the event.
Representatives from the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health will be joining other groups protesting the proposed trade agreement, which include the Sierra Club and Occupy San Diego. A rally, sponsored by the San Diego and Imperial County Labor Council and the AFL/CIO, is planned for noon on July 2.