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Trade Policy, Health and Corporate Influence: British American Tobacco and China's Ascession to the World Trade Organization

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Publication details

JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
DatePublished - 1 Jan 2010
Issue number3
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)421-441
Original languageEnglish


Tobacco market liberalization can have a profound impact on health. This article analyzes internal documents of British American Tobacco (BAT), released as a result of litigation in the United States, in order to examine the company's attempts to influence negotiations over China's accession to the World Trade Organization. The documents demonstrate that BAT attempted to influence these negotiations through a range of mechanisms, including personal access of BAT employees and lobbyists to policymakers; employment of former civil servants from key U. K. government departments; use of organized business groups such as the Multinational Chairmen's Group and the European Round Table; and participation and leadership in forums organized by Chatham House. These processes contributed to significant concessions on the liberalization of the tobacco market in China, although the failure to break the Chinese state monopoly over the manufacture and distribution of cigarettes has ensured that foreign tobacco companies' share of the Chinese market has remained small. World Trade Organization accession has nevertheless led to a profound restructuring of the Chinese tobacco industry in anticipation of foreign competition, which may result in more market-based and internationally oriented Chinese tobacco firms.

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