Environmental services includes sewage services, refuse disposal, sanitation and similar services, reducing vehicle emissions, noise abatement services, nature and landscape protection services and “other” environmental services.
Current commitments and exemptions back to top
More than 40 WTO members, at all levels of development, have undertaken specific commitments on environmental services. Most have commitments in several sub-sectors while some have commitments in all sub-sectors.
Compared with other sectors, such as tourism, financial services or telecommunications, the level of environmental services commitments bound under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is modest. This can be explained, in part, by the prevailing role played by public entities in providing these services. On the other hand, those members that have undertaken specific commitments in this sector account for more than 80 per cent of GDP of all WTO members. Also, members' policies may be more liberal in practice than what is indicated in their schedules of commitments.
Environmental services is a sector where most trade takes place through commercial presence (Mode 3), with the accompanying presence of natural persons (Mode 4). Due to technological developments, cross-border supply (Mode 1) is of increasing importance in this sector.
No exemptions to most-favoured nation (MFN) treatment (i.e. non-discrimination) have been taken in environmental services.
For consolidated information on countries’ commitments and exemptions on
environmental services go to the
If you are seeking the commitments of a specific WTO member, go
to “Jump to a specific sector for a given
Member”, select environmental services from the
sector dropdown list, select the Member of interest and click
“go”. To see a table
showing which Members have made commitments in environmental services choose
“See which Members have made commitments in a
specific sector”, select Environmental services
and click “go”.
Current negotiations back to top
Environmental services are included in the services negotiations, which began in January 2000.
Environmental goods and services are singled out for liberalization in paragraph 31(iii) of the Doha Declaration, which calls for “the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services” with a view to “enhancing the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment”. WTO members have identified individually or in groups the following objectives in the market access negotiations on environmental services (TN/S/23):
- high levels of market access across sub-sectors, as far as possible
- Mode 1 commitments for as many sub-sectors as possible, in particular advisory services
- objective of full commitments for Mode 2 (consumers or firms making use of a service in another country)
- ambitious commitments for Mode 3, removing barriers on commercial establishment; if exclusive rights are awarded, foreign suppliers should be able to participate in the tender and operation of the service
- Mode 4 commitments to ensure mobility of service suppliers, such as remediation specialists, conservationists and geomatic professionals
- commitments across all sub-sectors listed in CPC Prov. [what’s this?], i.e. 9401 to 9409, taking into account the interplay with related services, such as construction, engineering, technical testing, and analysis and management consulting services.
Following the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of December 2005, a group members sent a collective request seeking commitments across all environmental services sub-sectors mentioned above. The request seeks new or improved commitments across the four modes of supply, with a particular emphasis on Mode 3.
Further reading back to top
OECD (2005), “Managing Request-Offer Negotiations Under the GATS: The Case of Environmental Services”, OECD Trade Policy Working Paper No. 11, by M. Geloso Grosso, TD/TC/WP(2004)8/FINAL, 15 February 2005
UNCTAD (2003), “Energy and Environmental Services: Negotiating Objectives and Development Priorities”, New York and Geneva, 2003
M. Geloso Grosso (2007), “Regulatory Principles for Environmental Services and the General Agreement on Trade in Services”, ICTSD Issue Paper No. 6, 2007
Additional information back to top