Health equity in economic and trade policies

Aid agencies say rich countries are blocking anti-poverty economic action
Ekklesia: 25 September 2008

While world leaders gathered in New York for a high-level meeting last month in New York on the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), international development agencies, including Britain's Christian Aid, warned that progress is being hampered by the activities of rich countries and big business. Christian Aid said that the problems were due to short-sighted trade liberalisation imposed on poor countries and the use of offshore havens by transnational corporations to reduce their tax liabilities in the developing world, grievously undermining international aid efforts. The aims of the MDGs were wholly desirable but rich countries were likely to argue about how much more aid they could afford, instead of addressing trade liberalisation and offshore havens.

Aid effectiveness: overview of the results 2006 survey on monitoring the Paris Declaration: How can donor countries fulfil the Paris Declaration commitments?
DAC-OECD Working Party on Aid Effectiveness and Donor Practices, 2007

This document presents the first volume of results from a survey on the Paris Declaration. It provides an overview of the key findings across the 34 countries involved, as well as assessing the survey process and setting out key conclusions and recommendations. Key implications of the survey that are highlighted include higher expectation levels for reform, deeper ownership and more accountable institutions, and increasing aid efficiency together with donor harmonisation. The authors suggest that aid effectiveness issues and results need to be discussed more explicitly at country level, and credible monitoring mechanisms need to be developed. If countries and donors are to accelerate progress towards achieving the Paris Declaration commitments, it is recommended that: partner countries must deepen their ownership of the development process; donors need to support these efforts by making better use of partners' capacity; to further harmonisation, donors must work aggressively to reduce the transaction costs of delivering and managing aid; and to begin addressing mutual accountability commitments, countries and donors should clearly define a mutual action agenda.

Aid for trade and climate change financing mechanisms: Maximizing benefits from complementarities
Ancharaz VD: Trade Negotiation Insights Issue 10(8), December 2009-January 2010

This article argues that climate change and aid for trade financing initiatives can be used in a complementary manner to overcome their weaknesses and promote synergies in affected countries. Most less developed countries (LDCs) are more concerned with day-to-day survival than with climate change. A number of these countries have received Aid for Trade (AFT) to help them invest in trade-related economic infrastructure and to build supply-side capacity. Climate change and aid for trade financing initiatives are argued to need greater coherence and complemetarity. One step, it is argued in this paper, is for aid-for-trade initiatives operating largely at the bilateral level in what is argued to be a rather uncoordinated manner to be more formalised and multilateral.

Aid for trade and financial assistance to implement the EPAs
South Centre Fact Sheet 6, May 2007

This Analytical Note is part of a series of Fact Sheets designed to overview and assess the development implications of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which the EU is currently negotiating with 76 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). The purpose of these Fact Sheets is to examine the existing material on EPAs and to provide an analysis of their potential impact on ACP countries. The Fact Sheets seek to increase the understanding of the substantive issues at stake in the negotiations, thereby enabling policy-makers, lobbyists and campaigners to make informed decisions about how to engage with EPAs.

Aid for Trade at a glance in 2009: Maintaining momentum
World Trade Organization: 2009

Aid for Trade is an initiative that started in 2005 through the WTO framework in recognition of the fact that developing countries lack the basic infrastructure and capacity to take advantage of the market access opportunities resulting from trade negotiations – normal aid programmes have not been able to deal with these. This second global review aimed to evaluate the progress of the initiative and implemention on the ground. It says the initiative has achieved remarkable progress in a short time, as partner countries are mainstreaming trade in their development strategies and clarifying their needs and priorities, and donors are improving aid for trade delivery and scaling up resources. In 2007, aid for trade grew by more than 10% in real terms and total new commitments from bilateral and multilateral donors reached US$25.4 billion, with an additional US$27.3 billion in non-concessional trade-related financing. But maintaining the momentum will be difficult in this current economic recession, and that the quantity and the quality of aid, including aid for trade, are now more important than ever for economic growth and human welfare.

Aid for trade: An opportunity for re-thinking aid for economic growth
Brüntrup M and Voionmaa P: Trade Negotiation Insights 9(2), March 2010

In this article discussing aid for trade (AfT) initiatives between European and African states, the author points out that AfT may be misused, as it aims to integrate developing countries into global markets, which serves the interests of the Western world as they view these African states as (future) trading partners and as drivers of the global trade policy agenda they serve. Another risk of AfT is that it tends to underestimate the potential of domestic markets. For instance, the rapidly growing population and urbanisation in many African countries creates great opportunities for domestic farmers and food industries. The AfT agenda also adds to the increasing number of ‘vertical’ initiatives, such as the fund for HIV and AIDS or infrastructure. This leads to a segmentation of development cooperation, while efforts instead should seek to make aid more flexible by aligning it to developing countries’ priorities without earmarking it in advance for certain thematic issues. For all these reasons, the authors recommend a very careful, transparent and participatory use of the AfT initiative. Trade and AfT are not ends in themselves, but means to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing poverty. Hence, AfT must be embedded in overarching national growth and poverty strategies which balance inward and outward orientation of national economies and ultimately aim to generate resources for social development and poverty reduction.

Aid for trade: An opportunity to increase fruit and vegetable supply
Thow AM: Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (early online version), 16 November 2012

Low fruit and vegetable consumption is an important contributor to the global burden of disease. In the wake of the United Nations High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), held in September 2011, a rise in the consumption of fruits and vegetables is foreseeable and this increased demand will have to be met through improved supply. The World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Bank have highlighted the potential for developing countries to benefit nutritionally and economically from the increased production and export of fruit and vegetables. Aid for Trade, launched in 2005 as an initiative designed to link development aid and trade holistically, offers an opportunity for the health and trade sectors to work jointly to enhance health and development. It is one of the few sources of aid for development that is stable and experiencing growth, according to this paper. At present the health sector has very little input into how Aid for Trade funds are allocated. This is an opportune moment to investigate opportunities for collaboration, since more than half of the reporting external funders are planning to revise their Aid for Trade strategies in 2013. Health departments should make central planning and finance departments aware of the potential health and economic benefits, for both developed and developing countries, of directing Aid for Trade to fresh produce markets.

AIDS activists denounce European Commission’s actions in trade
Act Up-Paris: 21 July 2010

Act-Up Paris made this speech via the European Commission's (EC) satellite to the International AIDS Conference, held from 18 – 23 July in Vienna, Austria. It denounces the EC’s actions, such as its decision to take a trade-based and not a health-based approach to access to medicines, and accuses the body of duplicity in its Free Trade Agreement negotiations with India, its negotiations regarding the proposed All Censorship Trade Agreement (ACTA), which aims to govern global intellectual property rights, and seizures of allegedly counterfeit generics being transported from India to South America and Africa. Act-Up Paris asserts that the EC is working to make medicines more expensive, while at the same time freezing its contributions to the Global Fund. It urges the EC to respect the Doha Declaration and to embark on a global rights-based approach to dealing with HIV and AIDS.

Further details: /newsletter/id/35257
AIDS drug access alert: Abbott denies new drugs to Thai people
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, 14 March 2007

US drug giant Abbott Laboratories has banned its new drugs in Thailand in response to the Thai government's decision to protect the health of its citizens by issuing a compulsory license on Abbott's AIDS drug Kaletra. Abbott's decision could potentially deny access to lifesaving drugs to the more than 500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand, as well as to others with serious health conditions. The company's move has sparked outrage throughout the global health community.

AIDS drugs for Africa deal is off as pharma giants pull out
Townsend A: The Independent, 3 December 2006

Some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, including FTSE 100 giant GlaxoSmithKline, are reported to have failed to sign a formal agreement that would ensure HIV and AIDS patients in poor nations receive vital drugs. The agreement was drawn up during three years of talks between companies and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), which has 20 million members and 400 affiliated unions worldwide.