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It is critical that public health concerns – from sanitary safety measures to access to medicines or government procurement of health goods – be part of the discussion when negotiating the trade agenda.
It is important to understand that any new free trade negotiation does not start from scratch. There is almost universal consensus around flexibilities recognised in the TRIPS Agreement, confirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. These must be accepted as non-negotiable benchmarks or departure points. For this to happen, it is important that governments integrate public health concerns in the broader national interest agenda.