International Trade and Health Protection

International Trade and Health Protection

A Critical Assessment of the WTO’s SPS Agreement

Elgar International Economic Law series

Tracey Epps

This book examines and critiques the WTO’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), asking whether it strikes an appropriate balance between conflicting domestic health protection and trade liberalization objectives.

Chapter 5: Foundations of Tension between Health Protection and Trade Liberalization

Tracey Epps

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, human rights


5.1 INTRODUCTION Tension between health protection and trade liberalization objectives arises in large part due to the different values and interests underlying, on one hand, domestic regulatory agendas, and on the other, trade liberalization. In Section 5.2, this chapter highlights key strands of the economic case for trade and notes objections to liberalization. It then examines health regulation, looking first at normative theories of regulation (including, specifically, health protection regulation), followed by positive theories explaining regulatory outcomes. This analysis forms the foundation for identification of tension between health and trade in Chapter 6, and in Chapter 7 it will be called upon to establish a normative framework to guide WTO adjudicating bodies in balancing countries’ sovereign rights to protect health with the interests of the multilateral trading community in pursing trade liberalization. 5.2 THE CASE FOR TRADE WTO Agreements reflect a widespread acceptance among the international community of nations of the benefits to be gained from liberalizing trade. The Preamble to the Agreement Establishing the WTO1 reflects the Parties’ belief that the Agreement’s objectives will be furthered by reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade and eliminating discriminatory treatment in international trade relations’. Stated objectives include raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a growing volume of real income and effective demand, as well as sustainable development. The GATT refers to the contribution of liberalized trade to ‘raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, 1 Marrakesh...

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