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

ENVIRONMENT: ISSUES IN THE WTO 3
Relevant WTO provisions: texts

Extracts relevant to the environment, of WTO legal texts. (For complete texts go here.)

WTO Agreement: preamble
Goods: general exceptions of GATT Article XX (i.e. 20)
Technical Barrers to Trade (TBT) Agreement
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement
Agriculture Agreement
Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement
Services: general exceptions of GATS Article XIV (i.e. 14)

>  Decision on Trade and Environment, 14 April 1994
Decision on Trade in Services and the Environment, 15 December 1994

Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements


Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization Back to top

Preamble

The Parties to this Agreement,

Recognizing that their relations in the field of trade and economic endeavour should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, and expanding the production of and trade in goods and services, while allowing for the optimal use of the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, seeking both to protect and preserve the environment and to enhance the means for doing so in a manner consistent with their respective needs and concerns at different levels of economic development, ...

Agree as follows: ...

 
 


GATT Back to top

Article XX
General exceptions

“Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on international trade, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any contracting party of measures:

...

(b)     necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health;

...

(d)     necessary to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement, including ...;

...

(g)     relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources if such measures are made effective in conjunction with restrictions on domestic production or consumption; ... .”

 
 


Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade Back to top

Preamble

“... Recognizing that no country should be prevented from taking measures necessary to ensure the quality of its exports, or for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health, of the environment, or for the prevention of deceptive practices, at the levels it considers appropriate, subject to the requirement that they are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail or a disguised restriction on international trade. ...”

Article 2
Preparation, Adoption and Application of Technical Regulations by Central Government Bodies

“With respect to their central government bodies:

2.1      Members shall ensure that in respect of technical regulations, products imported from the territory of any Member shall be accorded treatment no less favourable than that accorded to like products of national origin and to like products originating in any other country.

2.2      Members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade. For this purpose, technical regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil a legitimate objective, taking account of the risks non-fulfilment would create. Such legitimate objectives are, inter alia: national security requirements; the prevention of deceptive practices; protection of human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, or the environment. In assessing such risks, relevant elements of consideration are, inter alia: available scientific and technical information, related processing technology or intended end-uses of products.

[...]

2.4      Where technical regulations are required and relevant international standards exist or their completion is imminent, Members shall use them, or the relevant parts of them, as a basis for their technical regulations except when such international standards or relevant parts would be an ineffective or inappropriate means for the fulfilment of the legitimate objectives pursued, for instance because of fundamental climatic or geographical factors or fundamental technological problems.”

 
 


Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
Back to top

Annex A
Definitions

1.      Sanitary or phytosanitary measure — Any measure applied:

(a)     to protect animal or plant life or health within the teritory of the Member from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms;

(b)     to protect human or animal life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs;

(c)     to protect human life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests; or

(d)    to prevent or limit other damage twithin the territory of the Member from the entry, establishment or spread of pests.”

 
 


Agreement on Agriculture Back to top

Annex 2
Domestic Support: the Basis for Exemption from the Reduction Commitments

...

12.      Payments under environmental programmes

(a)    Eligibility for such payments shall be determined as part of a clearly-defined government environmental or conservation programme and be dependent on the fulfilment of specific conditions under the government programme, including conditions related to production methods or inputs.

(b)     The amount of payment shall be limited to the extra costs or loss of income involved in complying with the government programme.”

 
 


Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Back to top

Article 27
Patentable Subject Matter

...

2.      Members may exclude from patentability inventions, the prevention within their territory of the commercial exploitation of which is necessary to protect ordre public or morality, including to protect human, animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the environment, provided that such exclusion is not made merely because the exploitation is prohibited by their law.

3.      Members may also exclude from patentability:

(a)     diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals;

(b)     plants and animals other than micro-organisms, and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animal other than non-biological and microbiological processes. However, Members shall provide for the protection of plant varieties either by patents or by an effective sui generis system or by any combination thereof. The provisions of this subparagraph shall be reviewed four years after the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement.”

 
 


General Agreement on Trade in Services Back to top

Article XIV
General Exceptions

“Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where like conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on trade in services, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any Member of measures:

...

(b)     necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health; ...”

 
 
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