Trade and environment

Stronger links between trade and environment


At Doha, members agreed to negotiate on greater market opening in environmental goods and services; on the relationship between WTO rules and trade obligations set out in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and on the exchange of information between those institutions.



  • A more open market for environmental goods and services

The elimination or reduction of barriers to trade in this area will benefit the environment by improving countriesĺ ability to obtain high quality environmental goods. It will facilitate access to these types of goods and foster a better dissemination of environmental technologies at lower costs. This negotiation will also have a positive impact on climate change by improving access to goods and technologies that can contribute to climate change mitigation.

Following the Work Programme set out in July 2008, members are in the process of identifying environmental goods of interest to them. The purpose of this exercise is to engage members into a broad discussion on the universe of environmental goods that may be subject to liberalization.

The goods discussed so far fall within a broad range of environmental categories, such as air pollution control, renewable energy, waste management and water and wastewater treatment.

Moreover, members have been invited to make proposals on other aspects of the mandate, including non-tariff barriers to trade and development related issues (transfer of technology, special and differential treatment, etc). Further work will be required in the coming months on these important aspects of the negotiations.

  • More coherence between trade and environment rules

To bring more coherence between trade and environment rules, members have made a number of proposals highlighting, for instance, the importance of national coordination between trade and environment experts, particularly in the context of the negotiation and implementation of MEAs. Proposals have also highlighted the value of national experience sharing in this area, to enhance the mutually supportive relationship of the trade and environment regimes.

  • Better cooperation between the WTO and MEAs

There is strong support for consolidating some practices and mechanisms for cooperation between the WTO and the MEAs. Concrete suggestions have been made regarding information exchange sessions with MEAs, possibly through annual sessions, document exchange and future collaboration in the context of technical assistance and capacity building activities. As regards observer status, the proposals set out criteria that could guide WTO committees in their consideration of requests for observer status by MEAs.
On the last two issues, discussions are well advanced and members are heading towards text-based negotiations, which will draw on the proposals currently on the table. At this stage, while there are some points of convergence, there still remain some issues that will need to be further discussed.


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