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The Globalization Of Trade Essay

1214 words - 5 pages

The exchange of goods and services has taken place for millennia. However, trade has undergone a critical shift in the past half century as international trade has become increasingly globalized. The fundamental macroeconomic shift toward a globalized economy has affected the health sector – including the trade of health-related goods and services – in a number of ways. We can see the deep impact macroeconomics has on the health sector by looking closely at several trends affected by globalization. First, the development of trade-related global governance (e.g., the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, its successor the World Trade Organization, or WTO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) has shaped the course of the health sector worldwide. Second, globalization of trade has led to the increasing interconnectedness of individuals and countries; this interconnectedness has led to the easier spread of disease, but also the spread of information and trained health care workers. Third, the macroeconomic shift associated with globalization has led to an increasing availability of – and demand for – services across international borders through medical tourism and telemedicine.
Global governance – including that specifically dealing in trade – has increased substantially since the end of World War II and the formation of the GATT. When GATT was created in 1947 with the goals of raising worldwide standards of living, fully using the world’s resources, and boosting the international production and exchange of goods, it “lacked an institutional structure – in the early years of its operation it did not even exist as an entity except when formal meetings of the contracting parties were held” (Hoekman, 2007). Over the coming decades, GATT evolved, culminating in the development of the World Trade Organization in 1995. The WTO had more than 150 members accounting for 97% of world trade as of 2009 (Fidler, 2009), with many binding agreements in place among parties. These include, among other things, “application of measures to protect human, animal, and plant health; … implementation of technical barriers to trade; use of trade-related investment measures; imposition of additional tariffs on dumped or subsidized imports; and protection of intellectual property rights” (Ibid).
These agreements – developed over the past 70 years by GATT/WTO members – have had a substantial impact on trade as it relates to health. WTO rules related to technical barriers to trade require measures such as labeling and ingredient standards meant to promote human, animal, and plant health. The requirement of “most favored nation” status – in which countries must treat “like” products equally regardless of their country of origin – helps ensure countries do not apply discriminatory practices related to accepting other nations’ health-related goods, although it limits the steps nations may take to protect domestic products (Hoekman, 2007). Additionally,...

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