Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

ENVIRONMENT: REGULAR WORK

Items on the CTE’s Work Programme

The regular Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) began work with a 10-point work programme. Since the 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference, it has focused on some of these, while some others are now formally in the Doha negotiations.

Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
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The CTE was set up by the 1994 Marrakesh Ministerial Decision on Trade and Environment, which essentially mandates the committee to:

  • identify the relationship between trade measures and environmental measures in order to promote sustainable development

  • make appropriate recommendations on whether any modifications of the provisions of the multilateral trading system are required, compatible with the open, equitable and non-discriminatory nature of the system.

With its broad based mandate, the CTE has contributed to identifying and understanding the relationship between trade measure and environmental measures in order to promote sustainable development.

Although the CTE has not recommended any changes to the rules of the multilateral trading system, its work has led to some trade and environment issues migrating to negotiations as key components of the Doha round (negotiations).

One example is fisheries (under the Rules negotiations): this is an area where eliminating fishery subsidies can help protect fish stock.

Other items on the original 1994 mandate have received particular focus (item of focus) in the regular CTE following the 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference.

  

The work programme    back to top
The original 1994 items. Some are now being negotiated, some others are focal issues in the regular committee:

Items 1 and 5 (now in negotiations)
Trade Rules, environment agreements, and disputes

The relationship between the rules of the multilateral trading system and the trade measures contained in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), and between their dispute settlement mechanisms.

Item 2
Environmental protection and the trading system

The relationship between environmental policies relevant to trade and environmental measures with significant trade effects and the provisions of the multilateral trading system.

Item 3 (now an item of focus)
How taxes and other environmental requirements fit in

The relationship between the provisions of the multilateral trading system and: (a) charges and taxes for environmental purposes; and (b) requirements for environmental purposes relating to products, such as standards and technical regulations, and packaging, labelling <link to labelling pages> and recycling requirements.

Item 4
Transparency of environmental trade measures

The provisions of the multilateral trading system dealing with the transparency of trade measures used for environmental purposes. An Environmental Database (EDB) documents WT/CTE/EDB/* and documents WT/CTE/W/46, 77, 118, 143 and 195 was established in 1998 for the WTO Secretariat to compile and update annually all measures related to the environment that governments have notified to the WTO or that have been noted in trade policy reviews. This followed intensive discussions on transparency in the CTE and the recommendation in the CTE’s 1996 Report to the Singapore Ministerial Conference.

Item 6 (item of focus)
Environment and trade liberalization

How environmental measures affect market access, especially in relation to developing countries and least developed countries; and the environmental benefits of removing trade restrictions and distortions.

Item 7
Domestically prohibited goods

The issue of exports of domestically prohibited goods (DPGs), in particular hazardous waste.

Item 8
Intellectual property
(item of focus)
The relevant provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

Item 9
Services

The work programme envisaged in the Decision on Trade in Services and the Environment.

Item 10 (now in negotiations)
The WTO and other organizations

Input to the relevant WTO bodies on appropriate arrangements for relations with intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).