2021 Edition

Trade and Public Health

As the world becomes more and more interconnected, it is not possible anymore to deny the linkage between multilateral trade and public health. Sometimes the link is obvious: diseases crossing a border together with traded goods. Sometimes the link is more indirect: a change in international rules concerning patent protection that may affect the prices of medicines.

This linkage is being further emphasized by the current covid-19 pandemic notably as states compete for access to drugs, medical equipment and vaccines. There is a crucial need for greater cooperation and coordination between states. Thus, the role of the WTO is to find a balance between trade and protection of health, which is not an easy task. While ensuring public health is the absolute priority, this must not be a reason for countries to set-up protectionist measures in disguise.

The Model WTO 2021 will address issues particularly relevant in the context of the on-going pandemic, namely export restrictions on medical goods, Research & Development subsidies, Technical Barriers to Trade and Intellectual Property rights. Finally, this year’s topic, not only focused on health, will also use the current covid-19 pandemic as a basis case study to examine more broadly how the WTO system can respond to a global health crisis.

See last year’s ‘Best Essay’ by Luis Nicasio Hernández Arreola: Winner of Model WTO 2016 Best Essay

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