Our vision is no less than a world where trade agreements are designed to support strong health and social protection measures: A world of healthy trade agreements. They should include the right to regulate in the interests of health and public interest without fear of being sued or legally threatened for such measures; as well as increasing the economic and social well-being of all people.
Our members all agree that the way that trade negotiations are currently undertaken are based on corporate values of maximising profit often at the expense of the public interest. There is little evidence to prove that trade agreements are good for our health. On the contrary they are often used by corporations such as tobacco’s Philip Morris, mining companies, fast food and alcohol industries to undermine health protections and deny us our right to health.
The impacts of free trade ageements will be felt in many areas of health, our strategy is to ensure:
- full and comprehensive carve-outs of all healthcare and social services from all trade agreements and that policy space for government procurement is protected
- pharmaceutical policies in trade agreements do not negatively affect access to or the cost of treatment in developed or developing countries
- trade agreements fully allow for the control of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food
- food safety standards and restriction of measures aimed at decreasing anti-microbial resistance are not lowered
- that trade agreements do not affect the Sustainable Development Goals and,
- that we are all aware of the different impacts of trade agreements on men and women’s lives and that neither gender suffers particularly from their impacts.
Download the full 2016 to 2021 Strategy of the Health and Trade Network here.
As a network with members from public health and academia who are highly critical of the WTO and the mega-regional trade negotiations, we believe that there is not enough evidence to guarantee that the way that trade agreements are currently negotiated and implemented will not damage our health or access to universal health care. On the contrary, we see international trade policy as it is currently developed as symptomatic of a neoliberal agenda which creates a political economy more interested in maximising profit than keeping people healthy or returning them to good health at an affordable price.
The Health and Trade Network takes a position that there is no current evidence that the existing trade agreements can legally provide watertight protections for public health. We believe that policy makers should go back to the drawing board to recreate trade agreements in collaboration with all sectors of society that uphold the highest levels of human health and social protection.
Given the secretive, undemocratic and non-transparent nature of ISDS, and the number of cases of ISDS by tobacco and mining companies against health protection measures, the Health and Trade Network is against ISDS and any form of investment court based on its principles.