In November, the Lancet published “The Political origins of health inequities: trade and investment agreements,” co-authored by Professor Desmond McNeill, GEG's Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Professor Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Anand Grover, Professor Ted Schrecker, and Professor David Stuckler, as part of their participation in the University of Oslo's Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health.
Building on the Lancet-University of Oslo 2014 Commission report on the political origins of health inequity, focusing specifically on the impact of trade agreements on public health, the Panel members argue the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) threaten to exacerbate the underlying political and economic drivers of health inequities in years to come. Noting the groundswell of opposition from politicians, civil society, and academics to these two trade and investment agreements (TIAs), the co-authors argue that they would have major, and largely negative, consequences for health that go far beyond those of earlier trade agreements. They argue that this situation is particularly disturbing since the agreements are likely to create blueprints for future bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements. The Panels' argument, in summary, is that TIAs, driven by corporate interests, are rewriting the rules governing trade and investment. Not only do the processes of TIA negotiation routinely undermine democratic principles, their outcomes conflict with government obligations to fulfill the right to health under human rights treaties and contradict the commitments made to implement the UN Agenda 2030, which clearly spells out health—for all—as a global priority.