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WTO NEWS: 2000 NEWS ITEMS

29 February 2000
CTE focuses on market access

The Committee on Trade and Environment, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Istvßn Major (Hungary), held substantive discussions on several items of its agenda at its meeting on 29 February - 1 March.

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Summary of main points
  • The focus of the meeting was on market access, with new papers from Iceland and New Zealand which served to concentrate the debate on the trade, environment and development benefits of removing subsidies in the fisheries sector - referred to as a "win-win-win" situation. The FAO and the OECD briefed the CTE on their respective work on fisheries subsidies. Several delegations noted the importance of safeguarding existing and increasing market access for exports from developing countries in order to allow these countries to obtain the necessary financial resources to put towards improving environmental quality.
  • Several delegations commented on the importance of conducting environmental reviews of trade agreements at the national level and exchanging experiences in undertaking these reviews in the CTE.
  • Reference was made to the recently concluded Biosafety Protocol to the Biodiversity Convention and several Members expressed the view that commitments under both agreements should be implemented in a mutually supportive manner.
  • Costa Rica gave a detailed presentation of its Biodiversity Law. Commenting on a Secretariat paper on the Relationship between the Biodiversity Convention and the TRIPS Agreement, several delegations referred to the review of Article 27.3(b) in the TRIPS Council and emphasized the need for both these agreements to be mutually supportive.
  • Egypt and Nigeria reiterated their concern about the export of domestically prohibited cosmetics containing mercury from the EU to developing countries.
  • the CTE agreed to hold two Information Sessions with Secretariats of ten multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), back-to-back with the 5-6 July and 24-25 October meetings.
  • informative statements were made by other intergovernmental organizations (FAO, OECD, ITC, UNCTAD and UNEP) on their respective work in the area of trade and environment.
  • support was given for the Secretariat's plans to improve the WTO website on trade and environment, and to hold a second round of regional seminars on trade and environment with developing country government officials in 2000.
  • Ambassador Yolande BikÚ (Gabon) assumed the Chair of the CTE.

Papers:

> OECD submission on its Workshop on environmental assessment of trade liberalization agreements

> Submission by Argentina on a meeting regarding the "Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land"

> Submission by Iceland on fisheries

> Submission by New Zealand on fisheries

> Submission by the FAO on its activities related to fisheries

> An annotated bibliography prepared by the Secretariat of selected literature on the use of trade measures in MEAs.

> Secretariat reports on MEA meetings:  22 November 1999      2 February 2000

> Secretariat information note on the T&E pages of the WTO website