Document Type : Commentary
Department of Health Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
Townsend and colleagues highlighted the myriad political forces which fostered attention to health issues during negotiations to establish a new trans-pacific trade deal in Australia (the CP-TPP [Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership], formerly known as TPP). Among the factors they identify, exporter interests and exogenous events helped to generate attention to trade-related concerns about tobacco and access medicines, and limited attention to nutrition and alcohol. These are important considerations as the United Kingdom negotiates a trade deal with the United States in haste, whilst at the same time attempting to manage the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this commentary, I reflect on changing attention to trade and nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic in light of Townsend and colleagues’ analysis. I explore scope for greater attention to nutrition in US-UK trade negotiations, and the challenges created by the vested interests of major UK and US processed food exporters. I further discuss the utility of the theoretical tools employed by Townsend and colleagues for wider debates in the political economy of health.