WORK WITH OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
The WTO and the World Health Organization
WTO collaborates with the WHO on a number of different issues related to trade and health. Although there is no formal agreement between the WHO and the WTO, the WHO has observer status in the SPS and TBT Committees, and it has ad hoc observer status in the TRIPS and GATS Councils. There is extensive collaboration between the two Secretariats relating to health and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and continuing joint efforts to bring attention to the need for policy coherence between trade and health matters at both the global and national level.
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Intellectual property (TRIPS)
The Secretariat cooperates closely with the WHO on public health-related intellectual property matters, including by participating as observers in the WHO Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property and in the WHO's International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (IMPACT), as well as in the field of technical cooperation.
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Food safety and animal and plant health standards (SPS)
FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission
The WTO's SPS Agreement states that “to harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures on as wide a basis as possible, Members shall base their sanitary or phytosanitary measures on international standards, guidelines or recommendations”. The Agreement names the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius as the relevant standard-setting organization for food
The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of international food standards that have been adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (the “Codex”). The Codex is based in Rome and financed jointly by the FAO and the WHO.
The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), is a joint initiative of the WTO, World Bank, FAO, World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health. It aims to assist developing countries establish and implement SPS standards to ensure health protection and facilitate trade expansion. It also aims to act as a forum for coordination and information sharing on SPS-related technical assistance.back to top
Technical barriers to trade (TBT)
Under both the TBT and SPS Agreements,
taking regulatory action to protect health is a legitimate policy
objective. In fact, of all draft trade measures notified to the WTO
under the TBT Agreement, the largest single group relate to human
health and safety. Hence, the WHO has an important role as observer in
the TBT Committee and regularly attends its meetings. Moreover, Codex
standards — mentioned above — can be used as a basis for trade
measures covered by the TBT Agreement (e.g., labelling, nutrition and
quality). The WTO has also followed relevant work in the WHO. For
instance, during the negotiation of the Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control (FCTC), the WHO created an Inter-Agency Takes Force on
Tobacco Control for greater coordination between negotiators at an
early stage. The WTO, which has observer status in the WHO, followed
the negotiations of the FCTC and was part of this task force.
International trade in health-related services, like all services, falls under the GATS. However, unless a Member has undertaken specific commitments, it is not subject to any market access or national treatment disciplines. To clarify the (potential) implications of such disciplines, the WTO Secretariat and the WHO have co-authored various publications in the past. Also, the WTO Secretariat participated in several seminars and conferences organized by the WHO
> WTO Agreements and Public Health — A joint study by WHO and the WTO Secretariat