Spanning three continents and involving hundreds of countries, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represent the current wave of trade agreements aimed at increasing trade liberalisation. How governments manage our healthcare services, provide treatment, regulate against health harmful products and the practices of health harmful industries will be affected.
These trade agreements are changing the face of international trade and quite possibly leading to a break away from the World Trade Organisation’s multilateral negotiations which, although highly criticised for giving developing countries a bad deal, at the very least included them in the negotiations. Concerns about the impacts on health from trade liberalisation in the WTO rounds are now also being felt with regards to CETA, TiSA, TPP and the TTIP. Ahead of the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December 2015, the UN Special Rapporteurs stated that ‘If trade is to work for human rights and development it should contribute to the realization of the rights to adequate food, to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.’ The statement goes on to express deep concern that the mega-regional agreements pose a threat to poverty alleviation and will start a race to the bottom of regulatory standards through ‘toxic’ investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and regulatory cooperation chapters. With particular regards to health, the Health and Trade Network is especially concerned about:
- The impact of increasingly liberalised health and social services on procurement quality standards, labour rights and treatment outcomes in developed and developing nations
- The impact of the TPP, TTIP and other trade agreements on developing countries’ policy space to implement measures needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG3 (Health)
- Restrictions on changes to existing and future legislation on:
- Environmental health
- Antimicrobial resistance protection
- Food safety and marketing,
- The cost of medicines and the way that pharmaceutical companies can influence governmental and trade policy for outlandish profits.