Edited by Panagiotis Delimatsis
Chapter 12: The WTO Environmental Goods Agreement: from multilateralism to plurilateralism
Since the Doha Round commenced in November 2001, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has sought to facilitate a trade agreement among its members to lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers for environmental goods and services. In the Doha Ministerial Declaration, WTO members expressed a goal of seeking ‘the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services’. Liberalizing trade in environmental goods ‘can help to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and have a positive impact on air quality, water, soil and natural resources conservation’. Consequently, a successful agreement amounts to ‘a triple-win for WTO members: a win for the environment, a win for trade and a win for development’. Soon after the Doha Round negotiations were launched, the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) met in Special Session. There was broad support for the idea that negotiations on environmental goods would be conducted in the Negotiating Group on Market Access for Non-Agricultural Products and negotiations on environmental services would be conducted in the Council for Trade in Services Special Session. The hope was that the negotiations over an agreement for environmental goods would take the form of a multilateral agreement—i.e. one concluded by and binding on all WTO members. As a result, all WTO members were involved in the negotiations. However, the lofty rhetoric soon gave way to the cold realities of the negotiations table. Major points of division soon developed between developed and developing countries.
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