Trump threat to UK National Health Service shows how trade deals can undermine public services

June 5, 2019: President Trump has shocked Britain by declaring that the US would demand that NHS be opened up to privatisation by US health and pharmaceutical companies in post-Brexit negotiations for a US-UK free trade agreement.

His brash comments reveal the often hidden truth that trade agreements are structured to encourage privatisation through foreign investment in all services, unless very specifically excluded. Public health services and access to medicines then become a bargaining chip in secret trade negotiations, rather than being determined through public democratic processes.

The TPP-11 and the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) both have services chapters that open up all services to foreign investment unless they are specifically excluded, and provisions for longer monopolies on medicines, that would delay access to cheaper generic medicines.