WTO Working Papers

WTO working papers usually represent research in progress. Such research may be conducted in the preparation of WTO Secretariat reports, studies or other material for WTO members. The papers are circulated for comment because the WTO considers critical review of professional research to be extremely important.


More Trade for Better Health?

International Trade and Tariffs on Health Products

The main objective of this paper is to analyse trade flows and tariff policies of health products. The first contribution is to construct three groups of health products based on the 2007 Harmonized System classification of international trade. Using these commodity groups, we analyse trade flows between 167 countries for the years 1996 to 2009. We find that trade in health products has developed very dynamically, with trade in dosified medicine displaying the strongest growth with an annual growth rate of almost 12 per cent. The results further indicate that the market of health products is dominated by a small number of developed countries. Finally, studying the tariffs on health products in preferential trade agreements between developing countries, the results show that the tariff level is low, but in some individual cases still substantive.


Keywords: medical devices, trade, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, Public health, tariffs
JEL: I11: Health, Education, and Welfare / Health / Analysis of Health Care Markets; F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; O24: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Development Planning and Policy / Development Planning and Policy: Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy
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