Donald Trump's negotiating style, even though he calls himself a really great negotiator, is as simple as bargaining with a stall holder when you're in Asia.

You admire the product, the enthusiastic seller offers you the best price, you frown and make a counter offer, before flagging it and walking away. You know from the start the seller will chase you, trying to force up the price, before settling on your final price. You return to the stall and make the purchase.

You can't help think that's the sort of philosophy that's behind his latest presidential jawboning over the price of pharmaceuticals. The United States is second only to Germany when it comes to the production of drugs and Trump's using his country's muscle.

Jacinda Ardern: Pharmac will be protected in trade deals after Trump threats


Drugs was a significant sticking point in trying to reach a conclusion of the old Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which, in one of his first actions on taking over the Oval Office, was to walk away from it. He's now hinting that America might want back in.

Trump clearly believes the might of America will have them salivating, chasing him for a deal to be struck and ensuring "the most sweeping action in history to lower prices for prescription drugs for the American people".

He wants American drug companies to make more money out of what he says are "freeloading foreign countries". He didn't mention New Zealand of course, we're a minnow in the drug buying ocean.

But it's structures like we have here, a central drug buying agency, that he's talking about. Pharmac negotiates directly with the American companies, which generally means we can screw a better deal, certainly better than they can get in the United States.

There Medicare's prevented by law to negotiate prices which means they have the highest drug prices in the world - the companies can charge them what they can get away with. You'd think that's where Trump who says he "likes making deals, preferably big deals" should be directing his attention.

Open the door to the now Comprehensive and Progressive TPPA to the United States and it'd be back to the drawing board on this one, particularly when it comes to patents on new drugs which can last for anything to 20 years.

In that time no other company can sell a generic version of the drug - which keeps the prices up. Once the patent ends the price of a drug can drop by as much as 95 per cent.

And if Trump is allowed a seat at the table, Labour's on record as saying one of its bottom lines is to protect Pharmac and its model of purchasing.


But then on this one they could be up against the greatest negotiator of all time - who believes he's capable of changing the history of the world. Well surely, you can argue with that.