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Implications of the World Trade Organization in Combating Non-Communicable Diseases


Andrew D. Mitchell


University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School; NYU School of Law

Tania S. Voon


University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School; New York University (NYU) - Jean Monnet Center

May 1, 2010

Public Health, Vol. 125, pp. 832-839, 2011
University of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 485

Abstract:     
The World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed a number of strategies to combat non-communicable diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, by targeting the risk factors of tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, and poor diet. A number of the domestic regulatory responses contemplated by the WHO and individual countries have the potential to restrict or distort trade, raising the question whether they are consistent with the obligations imposed on Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In this article, we demonstrate that WTO rules do limit Members’ flexibility in implementing public health measures to address these diseases. However, the focus of WTO provisions on preventing discrimination against or between imports and the exceptions incorporated in various WTO agreements leave sufficient scope for Members to design carefully directed measures to achieve genuine public health goals while minimising negative effects on international trade.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: WTO, WHO, Trade, Non-Communicable Diseases, Cancer, Tobacco, Alcohol, Diet

JEL Classification: F10, I18, K20, K33

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Date posted: June 18, 2010 ; Last revised: December 6, 2011

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Andrew D. and Voon, Tania S., Implications of the World Trade Organization in Combating Non-Communicable Diseases (May 1, 2010). Public Health, Vol. 125, pp. 832-839, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1626733

Contact Information

Andrew D. Mitchell
University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School ( email )
The University of Melbourne
Victoria, 3010
Australia
+61383441098 (Phone)
+61393472392 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/staff/Andrew%20Mitchell
NYU School of Law ( email )
185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
+1 212 992 6166 (Phone)
Tania Voon (Contact Author)
University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School ( email )
University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010
Australia
New York University (NYU) - Jean Monnet Center ( email )
22 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10011
United States
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