Negotiating a ‘healthy’ trade policy for the UK


In May 2018, following a major campaign led by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and supported by the wider health sector, the UK Government made an unequivocal guarantee that as we leave the EU, our existing high level of public health standards and protections will be the same or higher, and won’t be ‘traded away’.

Published in April 2019, this blueprint for a public health approach to post-Brexit trade agreements sets out a shared agenda between the business and health communities for the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy, rooted in a commitment to secure the highest levels of health and wellbeing for the UK’s workforce and wider population.

To better understand the strength of a shared agenda between the business and health communities on the UK’s future trade policy, FPH carried out a six-month programme of evidence-gathering, research, and extensive stakeholder engagement with health and business leaders.

As part of this, we hosted a series of stakeholder workshops involving over 20 organisations including FPH members, health and legal experts, and officials. We also commissioned polling experts ComRes to conduct a major survey of 505 business leaders across the UK in businesses with over 50 employees about health and trade.

This blueprint – endorsed by 27 organisations across the health and business sectors, representing over 150,000 people – draws together the collective insights, concerns, and priorities discovered through our research, and sets out six clear principles for ‘healthy’ trade that the business and health communities can both support:

  1. A transparent and inclusive trade policy

  2. A ‘seat at the table’

  3. Do no harm

  4. Health in All Policies

  5. The duty to regulate

  6. The right to health

  1. 94% of business leaders think it is important that the UK Government secures future trade deals with other countries that include high public health standards and regulations.

  2. 92% of business leaders agree that the business community has a responsibility to help ensure the health and wellbeing of the UK workforce (88% for the UK population respectively).

  3. 87% of business leaders agree that current public health rules, regulations and protections help to support the health and wellbeing of the UK workforce (61% agree that they don’t go far enough).

  4. 85% of business leaders agree that the UK Government should consider the possible impact on the health and wellbeing of the UK workforce before agreeing post-Brexit trade deals.

  5. 83% of business leaders agree that current public health rules, regulations and protections help to support sustainable economic development.

  6. 77% of business leaders agree that leaders in the health community should have a ‘seat at the table’ alongside the business community in the negotiation of post-Brexit trade deals.

  1. Trade negotiations should be developed in a spirit of consensus building, with a presumption of transparency, full democratic oversight, and an overarching aim to deliver a net benefit to all.

  2. The health community should have a ‘seat at the table’, alongside the business community, in the development of the UK’s trade policy and post-Brexit trade negotiations.

  3. A ‘Duty to Regulate’ to protect and improve the public’s health should be adopted as the UK develops an independent trade policy and negotiates future free trade agreements (FTAs).

  4. A Health in All Policies Approach should be adopted to the development of the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy, with trade agreements designed to promote health equity and sustainability.

  5. The UK’s Post-Brexit trade agreements should embed the UK Government’s commitments to ‘do no harm’ to the public’s health, including to ensure “a high level of human health protection”.

  6. The right to health should be explicitly embedded into the UK’s future trade policy and negotiating positions, which should be both compliant with and measured against it

Who is the blueprint for?

  • Civil servants, including the UK’s Brexit and trade negotiators

  • Ministers

  • Parliamentarians

  • Business and public health leaders

Negotiating a Healthy Trade Policy

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