WTO Members Address Environmental Issues within the Doha Mandate

19 January 2011: An informal meeting of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Committee on Trade and Environment in Special Session (CTESS) met on 10-14 January 2011,  and WTO members reviewed the various proposals on the table covering the Doha mandate related to environment.

On the relationship between the WTO rules and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) (art. 31.1 of the Doha Declaration), discussions focused on national coordination, technical assistance, capacity building, special trade obligations set out in MEAs and principles. On technical assistance and capacity building, an African group proposal gathered strong support but more clarity would be needed as to the mechanism suggested.  Regarding special trade obligations, members highlighted some key features of MEAs that would ensure mutual supportiveness between trade and environment. Members also discussed a proposal underlining the importance of national-level coordination in the negotiation and implementation of special trade obligations in MEAs.

On the collaboration between the WTO and MEA secretariats (art. 31.2 of the Doha Declaration), members are now ready to engage in a drafting exercise. In addition, the EU proposed that observer status be granted to a number of MEAs that already work with the WTO.

On the tariff reduction on environmental goods and services (art. 31.3 of the Doha Declaration), members examined various categories of products (air pollution control, renewable energy, waste management and water treatment, environmental technologies and carbon capture and storage (CCS)) and negotiations continued to diverge on the mechanisms to identify the list of goods for liberalization and the definition of an environmental good (single use or multiple end uses). Members also agreed that the liberalization of environmental services is equally important and should be addressed, however no concrete proposal has been made so far on environmental services. Members said discussions in the Services Council in Special Session would be useful but also added that the CTESS had a clear mandate on this issue. This issue will be further discussed at the next meeting.

The chair will conduct small group consultations at the end of January and beginning of February 2011. Another week of negotiations will take place mid-February. [WTO Press Release]