Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon
Water and trade are related in myriad ways, raising many trade and other issues. Water is traded as a commodity, both in discrete products such as bottled water and bulk water transfers. Trade in ‘virtual water’, i.e., the water used in producing, processing and transporting consumer, industrial and agricultural goods, occurs when those goods are exported. Trade rules regarding intellectual property, services and investment, subsidies and countervailing duties, and agriculture may be relevant. Trade in both water-related and non-water-related goods can cause environmental harm that affects water quality, quantity or availability. Regulatory space relevant to water can be affected because trade rules restrict the measures States may take to protect water quality and control water-related exports, including of virtual water. Analysing water-related trade issues must take into account that water is unique because it is essential to life, as well as that there is a human right to water.
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