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Trade and the environment

Trade and the environment

WTO context

International trade and environment policy focuses on a number of areas where trade and environment interact particularly closely. Prominent examples of this are those international treaties which regulate trade where this is required to protect wildlife or the ozone layer; or where reductions in trade barriers have been undertaken where this promotes the trade, production and utilization of environmentally positive equipment.

The 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, establishing the WTO, refers to the importance of optimally using the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development and seeking to protect and preserve the environment. The WTO followed the lead of the 1992 Rio Conference on Sustainable development which endorsed the idea of making trade and environment policy and practice as "mutually supportive" as possible. Consistent with this, the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in relation to trade and environment is to ensure that environmental policies do not act as illegitimate cover for protectionist policies, and that trade rules do not stand in the way of legitimate domestic environmental protection.

Consideration of trade and environment issues within the WTO centers on the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE). The Committee's mandate is broad, and provides opportunities for WTO members to raise a wide range of trade and environment issues.

Further information on the Trade and Environment debate in the WTO

Environmental Goods Agreement

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