Climate Change, Trade and Competitiveness: Issues for the WTO

The Thinking Ahead on International Trade (TAIT) 2nd Conference on “Climate Change, Trade and Competitiveness: Issues for the WTO” took place on 16-18 June, 2010.



Conference background & goals

Absent near-term agreement on globally binding emission targets in the wake of Copenhagen, nations will rely increasingly on nationally determined climate policies. As these policies vary in stringency, governments are likely to face political pressures to “level the playing field” — particularly in energy-intensive industries open to international competition.S

This pressure has already produced industry support in a number of nations (e.g. free allowances of carbon permits) and could lead to the introduction of climate-related subsidies and tariffs in some nations. Such competitiveness-linked policies can distort trade — a fact that brings them into potential conflict with the WTO rulebook on subsidies and new tariffs. Consequently, ‘climate-related tariffs and subsidies’ may pose challenges to the world trading system.

While the WTO has long experience in addressing such disputes, this experience typically concerns issues involving narrow economic sectors, or a narrow range of policies. Trade and climate conflicts would be different.

To the extent that climate policies are widely viewed as national imperatives, any WTO dispute-resolution decisions on trade and climate would engage a broad set of politically influential actors.  Unless governments find political accommodation on the relationship between trade-related policies and climate policies, this could pose risks to the WTO, forcing nations to choose  between respecting the WTO rulebook, on one hand, and maintaining political support for climate policies, on the other.

As world trade in goods, services, food, technology and energy will be decisive to global climate adaptation and mitigation, it is vital that governments do not allow climate-related trade conflicts to undermine support for the rules-based system.

The goals of this conference are to:

  • Marshal the best available research on all the aspects of the problem (economics, legal, political and practical);
  • Outline all the main categories of solutions;
  • Foster a thorough discussion of the options by scholars and stakeholders.



Wednesday 16 June 2010


Welcome and opening remarks WTO leadership and organisers

Audio: Opening remarks   > help


Round Table 1: The impact of climate change on trade patterns

Background paper:

  • Dominque van der Mensbrugghe, World Bank
    > Download


  • Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, ICTSD


  • H.E. Mr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, Former Ambassador from Bangladesh; Special Adviser on LDCs, Office of the Secretary-General, UNCTAD,
  • Stephen Karingi, UN Economic Commission for Africa
  • Jaime de Melo, Professor of Economics, University of Geneva

Audio: Round Table 1   > help


Round Table 2: Climate linked policies, trade, and development

Background paper:

  • Muthukumara Mani, World Bank
    > Download


  • Joost Pauwelyn, Professor, Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Co-Director, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration


  • H.E. Mr Darlington Mwape, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the WTO
  • William Cline, Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Professor of International Political Economy, International Institute for Management Development (IMD)

Audio: Round Table 2   > help


Round Table 3: Climate-linked tariffs and subsidies: Eco-legal interface

Background paper:

  • Patrick Low, WTO, Gabrielle Marceau, WTO and Julia Reinaud, ClimateWorks Foundation
    > Download


  • Vesile Kulaçoglu, Director of Trade and Environment, WTO


  • H.E. Mr Fernando de Mateo, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the WTO
  • Steve Charnovitz, George Washington University
  • Carsten Dannöhl, Business Europe

Audio: Round Table 3   > help


Keynote Speech

  • James Bacchus, Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives

Audio: Keynote Speech   > help


Thursday 17 June 2010


Round Table 4: Calculation of carbon content — practical issues

Background paper:

  • Thomas F. Rutherford, ETH Zurich
    > Download


  • Richard Newfarmer, Special Representative to the United Nations and World Trade Organization World Bank


  • Daniel Gros, Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies CEPS
  • Ronald Steenblik, Senior Trade Policy Analyst OECD
  • John Gault, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Audio: Round Table 4   > help


Round Table 5: Climate-linked tariffs and subsidies: Economics aspects (competitiveness & leakage)

Background paper:

  • Peter Wooders and Aaron Cosbey, International Institute for Sustainable Development
    > Download


  • Otaviano Canuto, Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, World Bank  


  • Ludivine Tamiotti, Legal Affairs Officer,World Trade Organization
  • Robert Bouzas, Universidad de San Andrés-CONICET, Argentina
  • Reinhart Quick, Director of the VCI German Chemical Industry Association Liaison Office in Brussels

Audio: Round Table 5   > help


Round Table 6: Lessons from other International Environmental Agreements

Background paper:

  • Scott Barrett, Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Columbia University
    > Download


  • Susanne Dröge, Head of, Research Division Global Issues  German Institute for International and Security Affairs 


  • Naoko Munakata, Consulting Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade  and Industry and Director, Policy Planning, Multilateral Trade System Department, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan.
  • Biswajit Dhar, Director General, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi
  • James Bacchus, Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives

Audio: Round Table 6   > help


Round Table 7: Climate-linked tariffs and subsidies: Possible solutions (Moderated Discussion)

Background paper:

  • Gary Hufbauer, Senior Fellow and Jisun Kim, Research Analyst, Peterson Institute for International Economics
    > Download


  • Richard Baldwin, Professor, Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Co-Director, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration 

Panel discussion:

  • Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, Ambassador, Delegate of the Federal Council for Trade Agreements, Member of the Executive Board of SECO, Head of World Trade, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
  • Vincent Mages, Lafarge Climate Change Initiatives Director
  • Patrick Messerlin, Professor, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris
  • Ivan Mbirimi, South African Institute for International Affairs

Audio: Round Table 7   > help


Friday 18 June 2010


Report to the final segment from the conference:

  • Patrick Low, Director of Economic Research and Statistics, WTO

Audio: Report to the final segment   > help
> Download


Round Table 8: Open Debate


  • Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO


  • H.E. Mr Mario Matus, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Chile to the WTO
  • H.E. Mr Sun Zhenyu, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of China to the WTO
  • Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Director of DG Trade's Directorate on Sustainable Development, Bilateral Trade Relations, European Commission
  • Detlev Brauns, Alternate Permanent Representative of Germany to the WTO
  • H.E. Mr Ujal Singh Bhatia, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of India to the WTO
  • Fareed Al Asaly, International Policies Senior Advisor, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • H.E. Mr Faizel Ismail, Ambassador,  Permanent Representative of South Africa to the WTO
  • Timothy J. Keeler, Counsel Mayer Brown, and former Chief of Staff in the Office of the US Trade Representative

Audio: Round Table 8   > help


Wrap up and closing remarks

Audio: Closing remarks   > help



World Trade Organization — WTO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. It provides a framework for negotiating and formalising trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. The WTO has 153 members, representing more than 95% of total world trade; and 30 observers.

The Graduate Institute, Geneva
The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies is an institution of higher education and research dedicated to the cross-cutting disciplines of international relations and development studies. The Institute, keen to draw on the synergies offered by its two fields of specialisation, offers independent and rigorous analyses of current and emerging global issues with a view to promoting international cooperation and making a contribution to the development of less fortunate societies. This small and selective institution that owes its reputation to: the quality of its cosmopolitan faculty, the strength of its core disciplines (Economics, History, Law, Political Science and Development Studies), its policy-relevant approach to international affairs, and its bilingual English-French education programmes.

Centre for Trade and Economic Integration — CTEI
The Centre for Trade and Economic Integration fosters world-class multidisciplinary scholarship aimed at developing solutions to problems facing the international trade system and economic integration more generally. It works in association with public sector and private sector actors, giving special prominence to Geneva-based International Organisations such as the WTO and UNCTAD. The Centre also bridges gaps between the scholarly and policymaking communities through outreach and training activities in Geneva.
Its goal is to provide an innovative research basis for solutions that address the medium-term challenges facing the world trade system broadly defined and economic integration more generally. In doing so, it aspires to make the Graduate Institute a global hub for the study of trade and economic integration policy issues.  For further information on CTEI projects and forthcoming events, please visit

The World Bank
The World Bank is supporting this conference together with the Global Trade and Financial Architecture Project (GTFA), an initiative sponsored by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The World Bank Group provides policy advice, technical assistance and financial resources to developing countries in support of their development objectives. It is a leading provider of “aid for trade” resources, both to low-income countries with concessional finance and to middle income countries. Its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, makes investments in private activities that expand the market. Since the beginning of the global crisis in July 2008, the Bank has increased its financing to more than $100 billion to developing countries. Hosted by the World Bank, the GTFA is piloted by a Steering Committee of leading researchers and policy makers, and co-chaired by Ernesto Zedillo, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and Patrick Messerlin, Groupe d’Economie Mondiale de SciencesPo. Building on the findings of the report of the UN Millennium Taskforce on Trade and Development, the GTFA's objective is to identify and promote concrete policy options for reinvigorating and strengthening the multilateral economic systems and institutions that have supported the process of globalization since the Second World War. Its focus is on making the globalization process more sustainable and inclusive.


Conference Organising Committee

Richard Baldwin, Professor, Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Co-Director, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration

Theresa Carpenter, Executive Director, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Patrick Low, Director, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO, and Adjunct Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Richard Newfarmer, World Bank Special Representative to the UN and the WTO

Thinking Ahead on International Trade (TAIT)
The Thinking Ahead on International Trade (TAIT) programme, run by the Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI) at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, is a 4-year research programme devoted to the analyses of medium-term challenges facing the international trade system in general and the WTO in particular. While founded on scholarship, the analysis is undertaken in association with public and business sector actors. The working method seeks advice and input from the public sector (policymakers, diplomats, international civil servants, and government officials) and the private sector in all matters but especially when it comes to gathering views, prioritising issues and developing action plans to address the challenges identified.