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The Public Health Trade Advisory Committee Act

Introduced by Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) on May 6, 2009, H.R. 2293 – The Public Health Trade Advisory Committee Act – amends the Trade Act of 1974 to include formal and effective public health representation in the Federal Trade Advisory Committee System, and to improve transparency and accountability in the system generally.

The Government Accountability Office and public health advocates have noted that trade agreement provisions can affect health-related laws and regulations both in the U.S. and abroad. Yet the U.S. does not receive advice from the public health community in establishing trade policy and in negotiating trade agreements. The Trade Advisory Committee System was created to help the president develop U.S. trade policy. This bill would include public health representatives among the representatives of pharmaceuticals, tobacco, health insurance, processed foods, alcoholic beverages, and hospital industries.

This legislation would give public health concerns consideration at the onset of trade agreement formation – not merely as an afterthought. It would require greater openness and transparency in how trade advisory committees operate and ensure fairer, more effective representation of public interests.