Public Health and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Asian Journal of International Law, vol. 5(2) Forthcoming
29 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2014 Last revised: 21 Apr 2015
Date Written: February 10, 2014
Twelve-country negotiations towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (‘TPP’) are drawing to a close. The treaty has an ambitious agenda and could radically reshape trade in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, the TPP obligations have the potential to significantly restrict the ability of governments to regulate in the interests of public health. This article examines the impact that the TPP could have on two areas of public health regulation — tobacco control and access to medicines. It concludes that a number of legitimate concerns arise from the known content of the TPP, that the inclusion of a general health exception would be the preferable means of safeguarding the regulatory space of governments in relation to public health, and that United States proposals for stronger intellectual property protections that could restrict affordable access to medicines should be resisted. With negotiations shrouded in secrecy, TPP parties’ desires to promote international trade and investment must not overshadow the need of governments to be able to implement sensible and effective public health policy.
Keywords: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, TPP, Asia-Pacific, public health regulation, tobacco, United States, IP, intellectual property, access to medicine, international trade, international investment, public health
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation