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International health worker mobility and trade in services

Antonia Giulia Carzaniga, Ibadat S. Dhillon, Joscelyn Magdeleine and Lihui Xu

No ERSD-2019-13, WTO Staff Working Papers from World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division

Abstract: Despite its substantial and increasing importance to health systems and inclusive economic growth, the relationship between international trade in services and health worker mobility has been largely unexplored. However, international health worker mobility and trade in services have both been increasing rapidly, and at a growing pace in recent years. Trade in services frameworks (global, regional, bilateral) are an important vehicle for health worker mobility. In this paper we analyse the commitments made in the context of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and regional and bilateral trade agreements that cover services. Although there is room for more and deeper commitments, undertakings related to health worker mobility are already made in many trade agreements, with commitments more numerous and deeper in the regional and bilateral agreements than in the context of GATS. In addition, trade in services frameworks contain flexibility to strengthen and advance ethical health worker mobility, in accordance with the principles and recommendations of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. A strengthened collaboration between health and trade stakeholders could therefore serve to significantly expand sustainable development worldwide. There is potential for health stakeholders to strategically leverage trade dialogue and agreements to meet health system needs. Building on available tools, trade in services could help address the concerns of the health sector by ensuring that health worker mobility can respond to worldwide demand, while explicitly addressing health systems concerns across countries.

Keywords: health services; trade in services; health worker; worker mobility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F13 F16 F22 F66 I11 J61 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea, nep-int and nep-lab
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