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

Public Health, Vol. 125, pp. 832-839, 2011

University of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 485

14 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2010 Last revised: 30 Jan 2015

Andrew D. Mitchell

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School

Tania S.L. Voon

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School

Date Written: May 1, 2010

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.

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

JEL Classification: F10, I18, K20, K33

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Andrew D. and Voon, Tania S.L., 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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1626733

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

Tania Voon (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School ( email )

University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010
Australia

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