TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT

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This was the first meeting of the CTE chaired by Ambassador Aitzhanova (Kazakhstan) and the first time that Kazakhstan is chairing a committee following its accession to the WTO in 2015.

The Ambassador of Fiji, Mrs. Nazhat Shameem Khan, briefed members on the United Nations Ocean Conference held on 5-9 June in New York and the commitment shown there towards implementing the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources. Fiji was the co-host of the conference with Sweden. The call for action adopted at the conference included strengthening capacity building for small-scale and artisanal fishing in developing countries, supporting sustainable ocean-based economies, as well as taking decisive action and accelerating WTO negotiations to tackle fisheries subsidies.

Members were also briefed on efforts at the WTO’s Negotiating Group on Rules (NGR) to forge disciplines on fisheries subsidies. The WTO Secretariat said the SDGs are very much in the mind of negotiators and work would be intensive throughout the autumn in the run-up to the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

Canada, meanwhile, provided an update on the plurilateral negotiations on fisheries subsidies launched in September 2016 involving 15 WTO members. Negotiations are open to any WTO member willing to participate and are complementary to the ongoing multilateral talks, Canada added.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative briefed members on its legal instruments and tools to combat IUU fishing, to which some US$10-23 billion is lost annually according to latest estimates. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) briefed members on its Fishery Support Estimate (FSE) Database, which compiles information submitted by 31 countries, with more being added. The database will cover 50% of global fishing activity by the end of 2017, the representative said.

Representatives of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) briefed the Committee on UNCTAD's Trade and Environment Review focusing on fish trade. They noted that developing countries have become the main exporters of fish since 2010. The representatives further noted the increase in technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that are being applied to fish products, which have implications on the capacity of developing countries to engage in fish trade.

Climate change

The Chief of Staff of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Daniele Violetti, briefed delegates on the status of climate change discussions. Korea, New Zealand and Peru updated members on their respective pledges under the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016. New Zealand's acting Climate Change Ambassador, Jo Tyndall, noted that climate change discussions were starting to put more emphasis on the growing opportunities from climate friendly technologies, investment and behaviour.

China's Ambassador to the WTO, Mr. Zhang Xiangchen, briefed delegates on the latest developments in China's renewable energy sector. China obtained almost 13% of its energy from renewables in 2015, up from 6% in 2005, he said. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan informed members about the ministerial conference that had taken place from 11 to 14 June 2017 in the margins of the 2017 Expo held in Astana under the banner of "Future Energy".

Other topics

Members were briefed on the status of the plurilateral negotiations for an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). Australia, the chair of the EGA negotiations, said members continue to take stock on the way forward and call on others to consider joining. Many EGA participants then took the floor to call for negotiations to resume.

New Zealand's Ambassador to the WTO, Dr. David Walker, provided an update on recent developments on fossil fuel subsidy reform. A representative of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) updated members on a standard intended to quantify and communicate the carbon footprint of a product.

A representative of UN Environment delivered a presentation on the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

The Secretariat introduced its Environmental Database for 2014, which covers information on environment-related measures notified to and gathered from WTO bodies. The increase in measures highlights the growing links between trade and environmental policy measures.

Next meeting

The next Committee meeting is scheduled for November 2017.

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