International Trade in Environmental and Energy Services and Human Development: Contributing to Well-Being, Growth and Access for AllPublished on 01 Sep 2005
In the specific service sectors that are the subject of this paper, the challenge of ensuring universal and affordable access to health, water, sanitation and energy for poor people remains an utmost priority of most national governments. International trade in these services is not and will never be a substitute for conscious national strategies aimed at meeting universal goals in favour of poor people. The provision of most essential services is almost entirely a public prerogative not only because of their strong human rights content, but also because of the large social externalities and market failures2 involved in access to basic health or water supply (e.g., gains from checking spread of disease). However, there are ways and methods to leverage the forces of international trade to directly and indirectly help countries meet aspects of these urgent public needs. This paper makes an attempt to highlight some of these options. It also briefly outlines the nature and scope of reforms including attempts at deregulation, and attachment of social obligations and welfare conditions.