Online Program

Economic growth and human development: The view from the World Trade Organization's “World Trade Report 2014”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Joshua Yang, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Science, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Background. As the leading supragovernmental organization promoting trade, the positions of the WTO set the tone for trade issues globally. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has produced an annual World Trade Report since 2003. The theme of the World Trade Report 2014 was Trade and development: recent trends and the role of the WTO. The purpose of this study is to examine the WTO’s position on trade, economic growth, and human development – including health.

Methodology. Content analysis was conducted of the WTO World Trade Report 2014. First, a conceptual analysis was conducted to establish the existence and frequency of terms and concepts used in the report related to health and human development. Second, a relational analysis was conducted to identify the relationship among key concepts.

Findings. The WTO suggests that international trade is a key driver of economic growth and that there is no relationship between economic growth and non-economic human development (as measured by the World Bank Human Development Index, less per capita national income), inequality, environmental performance.

Conclusion. The WTO has concluded the trade, mediated through economic growth, has no relationship with health, human development, inequality, or environmental performance, dismissing concerns of critics of the effects of trade and health. The ideological push of the WTO to discount potential negative effects of trade on health should be met with rigorous data on health effects of trade and public advocacy for more thoughtful, well-rounded trade policy.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the position of the World Trade Organization on the effects of trade on human development. Discuss the implications of World Trade Organization’s views of trade on public health.

Keyword(s): Public Health Movements, Activism

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct empirical research on trade and health issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.