The Politics of Trade Policy and the Trade Negotiating Process

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Public Health Policy Research book series (PSPHPR)


This chapter presents an analysis of the actors, ideas, institutions and processes that shape trade policy and the negotiation of trade agreements. The roles played by nation states, industry, civil society and academics are explored. The trade policy-making process is described, and the ways in which influence is exerted. The role of intergovernmental organisations in the governance of trade and health is also explored. The chapter then turns to the need for advocacy and capacity building to improve policy coherence between trade and health. Strategies to advance health on the trade policy agenda are discussed, along with strategies to strengthen the capacity of trade and health officials for intersectoral policy making, as well as the capacity of health professionals and organisations to engage with trade policy.


Trade policy making Politics Actors Institutions Processes Advocacy Capacity building 


  1. 1.
    Jarman H. Trade policy governance: what health policymakers and advocates need to know. Health Policy. 2017;121(11):1105–12. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Office of the United States Trade Representative. Trade Promotion Authority [Internet]. Washington, DC: USTR; n.d. [cited 2019 Mar 8].
  3. 3.
    Meunier S. Trade policy and political legitimacy in the European Union. Comp Eur Polit. 2003;1:67–90. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Meunier S, Nicolaïdis K. The European Union as a conflicted trade power. J Eur Publ Policy. 2006;13(6):906–25. Scholar
  5. 5.
    European Commission. Negotiating EU Trade Agreements: who does what and how we reach a final deal. [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2019 Mar 9].
  6. 6.
    Woolcock S. European Union trade policy: domestic institutions and systemic factors. In: Kelly D, Grant W, editors. The politics of international trade in the twenty-first century: actors, issues and regional dynamics International political economy series. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan; 2005. p. 234–52.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ravenhill J. The political economy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: a ‘21st Century’ trade agreement? New Pol Economy. 2017;22(5):573–94. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Friel S, Ponnamperuma S, Schram A, Gleeson D, Kay A, Thow A-M, et al. Shaping the discourse: what has the food industry been lobbying for in the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement and what are the implications for dietary health? Crit Public Health. 2016;26(5):518–29. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Battams S, Townsend B. Power asymmetries, policy incoherence and noncommunicable disease control—a qualitative study of policy actor views. Crit Public Health [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2018 July 18]: [14 p.].
  10. 10.
    Friel S, Baker P, Thow AM, Gleeson D, Townsend B. An expose of the realpolitik of trade negotiations: implications for population nutrition. Public Health Nutr. 2019;22(16):3083–91.
  11. 11.
    Kaminski M. The capture of international intellectual property law through the US trade regime. South Calif Law Rev. 2014;87:977–1052.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ingraham C. Interactive: how companies wield off-the-record influence on Obama’s trade policy. Washington Post [Internet]. 2014 Feb 28 [cited 2017 Mar 31].
  13. 13.
    Knowledge Ecology International. KEI comments regarding USTR Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee [Internet]. 2014 Mar 26 [cited 2019 May 12].
  14. 14.
    Sell SK. Private power, public law: the globalization of intellectual property rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2003. 244 p.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    European Commission. Transparency Policy in DG Trade. [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 May 19].
  16. 16.
    European Parliament. European Parliament rejects ACTA. News European Parliament [Internet]. 2012 July 4 [cited 2019 May 19].
  17. 17.
    Drutman L. How Big Pharma (and others) began lobbying on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before you ever heard of it [Internet]. Washington, DC: Sunlight Foundation; 2014 [cited 2019 Mar 10].
  18. 18.
    Kampmark B. Radical transparency in geopolitical economy: WikiLeaks, secret diplomacy and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. J Glob Faultlines. 2016;3(1):1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McDermott P, Manna E. Secrecy, democracy and the TPP: trade transparency is what the public wants—and needs. The Hill [Internet]. 2016 Sept 12 [cited 2019 Mar 10].
  20. 20.
    Carter Z. What’s going on in Obama’s Trade Meeting with democrats? That’s classified. Huffington Post [Internet]. 2015 Mar 17 [cited 2019 Mar 10].
  21. 21.
    Bradner E. How secretive is the Trans-Pacific Partnership? CNN [Internet]. 2015 June 12 [cited 2019 Mar 10].
  22. 22.
    Taylor L. Australian MPs allowed to see top-secret trade deal text but can’t reveal contents for four years The Guardian, Australia Edition [Internet]. 2015 June 2 [cited 2019 Mar 10].
  23. 23.
    Neuwelt PM, Gleeson D, Mannering B. Patently obvious: a public health analysis of pharmaceutical industry statements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership international trade agreement. Crit Public Health. 2016;26(2):159–72. Scholar
  24. 24.
    Townsend B, Schram A, Baum F, Labonté R, Friel S. How does policy framing enable or constrain inclusion of social determinants of health and health equity on trade policy agendas? Crit Public Health. 2018:1–12.
  25. 25.
    Baker P, Friel S, Gleeson D, Thow AM, Labonté R. Trade and nutrition policy coherence: a framing analysis and Australian case study. Public Health Nutr. 2019;22(12):2329–37. Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lee K, Sridhar D, Patel M. Bridging the divide: global governance of trade and health. Lancet. 2009;373(9661):416–22. Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gopinathan U, Watts N, Lefebvre A, Cheung A, Hoffman SJ, Røttingen J-A. Global governance and the broader determinants of health: a comparative case study of UNDP’s and WTO’s engagement with global health. Glob Public Health. 2018:1–15.
  28. 28.
    World Health Organization. WHA resolution on international trade and health (WHA59.26) [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2006 [cited 2019 Mar 1].
  29. 29.
    Legge D. WHO reform: for what purpose? In: Movement PsH, editor. Global Health Watch 4, 2015. p. 247–66.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Smith R, Blouin C, Mirza Z, Beyer P, Drager N. Trade and health: towards building a national strategy [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015 [cited 2016 Oct 21].
  31. 31.
    United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. About UNCTAD [Internet]. Geneva: UNCTAD; n.d. [cited 2019 Mar 1].
  32. 32.
    Codex Alimentarius. Codex Alimentarius—International Food Standards [Internet]. n.d. [cited 2019 Mar 1].
  33. 33.
    Thow AM, Gleeson D. Advancing public health on the changing global trade and investment agenda; comment on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership: is it everything we feared for health?”. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2017;6(5):295–8. Scholar
  34. 34.
    Drahos P. Four lessons for developing countries from the trade negotiations over access to medicines. Liverpool Law Rev. 2007;28:11–39. Scholar
  35. 35.
    Michael GJ. International coercion and the diffusion of regulatory data protection. J World Intellect Prop. 2016;19(1–2):2–27. Scholar
  36. 36.
    Berthelot J. Did you say free trade?: The Economic ‘Partnership’ Agreement European Union—West Africa. Paris: L’Harmattan; 2018. 144 p.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kingdon JW. Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Boston: University of Michigan; 1984. 253 p.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hirono K, Haigh F, Gleeson D, Harris P, Thow AM, Friel S. Is health impact assessment useful in the context of trade negotiations? A case study of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. BMJ Open. 2016;6(4):E010339. Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hirono K, Gleeson D, Freeman B. To what extent does a tobacco carve-out protect public health in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement? Public Health Res Prac. 2016;25(2):e2621622. Scholar
  40. 40.
    Blouin C. Trade policy and health: from conflicting interests to policy coherence. Bull World Health Organ. 2007;85:169–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Olesen T. ‘In the Court of Public Opinion’: transnational problem construction in the HIV/AIDS medicine access campaign, 1998–2001. Int Sociol. 21(1):5–30.
  42. 42.
    Owen T. From “Pirates” to “Heroes”: news, discourse change, and the contested legitimacy of generic HIV/AIDS medicines. Int J Press Polit. 2013;18(3):259–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    ‘t Hoen E. The global politics of pharmaceutical monopoly power: drug patents, access, innovation and the application of the WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS and public health. The Netherlands: AMB Publishers; 2009. 136 p.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Leon D. Intellectual Property rights and the campaign for access to essential medicines: the advocacy role assumed by Médecins Sans Frontières [dissertation]. California: Brock University; 2010.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Owen T. The ‘Access to medicines’ campaign vs. big pharma: counter-hegemonic discourse change and the political economy of HIV/AIDS medicines. Crit Discourse Stud. 2014;11(3):288–304. Scholar
  46. 46.
    Gleeson D, Legge D. Strengthening public health engagement in trade policy: PHAA’s policy on Trade Agreements and Health. ANZJPH. 2012;36(1):7–11. Scholar
  47. 47.
    World Health Organization, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, UNDP Pacific Centre, Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Noncommunicable Diseases. Trade, trade agreements and non-communicable diseases in the Pacific Islands: intersections, lessons learned, challenges and way forward. Fiji: UNDP Pacific Centre; 2013.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Thaiprayoon S, Smith R. Capacity building for global health diplomacy: Thailand’s experience of trade and health. Health Policy Plan. 2015;30(9):1118–28. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations