Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

Draft Legal Review of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) from a Health Policy Perspective

Prepared by the GATS Legal Review Team: David P. Fidler, Carlos Correa and Obijiofor Aginam
Project leader: Nick Drager

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is one of the most important multilateral trade agreements to emerge from the Uruguay Round negotiations that created the World Trade Organization (WTO). GATS constitutes the multilateral legal framework through which WTO members will approach the progressive liberalization of trade in services, including health-related services. Health policy is an important social endeavor that faces both opportunities and challenges from GATS. Many factors, including the complexity of GATS, the lack of empirical data on international trade in health-related services and on the health effects of liberalized trade in services, and inequalities in resources and power between developed and developing countries create a difficult environment for people in public health and health care who want to understand the actual and potential impact of GATS on their activities.

Related links

  • Policy note for busy practitionners
    A six page foldout which synthesiezes the above extensive study. It introduces the health policy principles to inform the GATS process, the key provisions of GATS and makes six policy recommendations for countries engaging in this process.