Typology of Environment-related Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements

The last 25 years have witnessed a rapid increase in regional trade agreements (RTAs). ). Although RTAs generally aim at lowering tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, an increasing number of trade agreements extend their scope to cover specific policy areas such as environmental protection and sustainable development.

This paper establishes a comprehensive typology and quantitative analysis of environment-related provisions included in RTAs. The analysis covers all the RTAs currently into force that have been notified to the WTO between 1957 and May 2016, namely 270 trade agreements. While environmental exceptions, along with environmental cooperation continue to be the most common types of environment-related provisions, many other different types of provisions are incorporated in an increasing number of RTAs. The common feature of all environment-related provisions, including environmental exceptions, is their heterogeneity in terms of structure, language and scope.


No: ERSD-2016-13

Authors: José-Antonio Monteiro, Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization

Manuscript date: August 2016

Key Words:

Regional Trade Agreements, Environment, Sustainable Development.

JEL classification numbers:

F13, F18

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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of its author. They are not intended to represent the positions or opinions of the WTO or its members and are without prejudice to members' rights and obligations under the WTO. Any errors are attributable to the author.

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