In joining the WTO, Members adhere to 18 specific agreements annexed to the Agreement establishing the WTO. They cannot choose to be party to some agreements but not others (with the exception of a few “plurilateral” agreements that are not obligatory). Of greatest relevance to the health sector are: the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS); the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT); the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
Of these agreements, TRIPS is expected to have the greatest impact on the pharmaceutical sector. The TBT Agreement should be of particular concern to producing countries, since its implementation may affect export markets.