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Greening Regional Trade Agreements: Opportunities and Insights from International Experience

 

Introduction

Paris, France | 10 June 2016

International trade and environmental protection are both fundamental elements for sustainable economic growth at a global scale. In parallel to multilateral efforts negotiated through the World Trade Organization (WTO), regional trade agreements (RTAs) have emerged significantly over the past decade reaching up to 625 agreements worldwide as of February 2016. These RTAs increasingly include environmental provisions that encourage membership countries and economies to strengthen their environmental policies, and provide significant opportunities to further ensure the mutual supportiveness of trade and environmental policies.

Since 2007, the OECD, under its Joint Working Party on Trade and Environment (JWPTE), has been investigating trends in environmental provisions in RTAs and their impacts on the environment. Under its work programme on trade and environment, the JWPTE has developed and released several publications on the “environment and RTAs” to deepen knowledge in this emerging area.

There is considerable interest now on how RTAs could pursue environmental and sustainable development throughout the agreements — e.g., in chapters such as investment, market access, government procurement — and not only via language contained in environmental chapters or side agreements. To date, however, there has been limited research into possibilities in this area.

This new and emerging issue of “greening RTAs” beyond environmental and sustainable development chapters were the core focus of this workshop. This event provided new opportunities to draw experiences and insights together from the global community to establish the current state of knowledge on greening RTAs and to provide prospects for future negotiations.

The workshop objectives included:

  • To highlight the opportunities and challenges in greening RTAs.
  • To take stock of current experience and insights in greening RTAs from different regions and stakeholders.
  • To identify key knowledge gaps and the possible way forward in greening RTAs.

The workshop focused on chapters of RTAs that are concerned mainly with issues other than the environment, such as market access, investment, or government procurement, TBT, regulatory coherence or dispute settlement. It also highlighted crosscutting issues such as subsidies, implementation, capacity building and follow-up commitments.

 

Documents and presentations

 

Sessions


Opening session

  • "OECD work on Regional Trade Agreements and the Environment" by Shardul AGRAWALA, OECD

Session 1 : Greening RTAs - Realising the potential beyond environment chapters

  • 1.1 "Greening RTAs: Framing the Discussion" by Aaron COSBEY, International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • 1.2 "The complementary role that RTAs can play in multilateral responses to meeting the Paris Agreement and global climate challenge" by Peter GOVINDASAMY, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore

Session 2: Current state of play - International experience of greening RTAs

  • 2.1 "Greening RTAs in the Americas" by Claudia DE WINDT, Organization of American States
  • 2.2 "Greening RTAs - International Experience: ASEAN & Malaysia", Muralitharan PARAMASUA, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia

Session 3: Greening RTAs - Roundtable discussion and next steps

  • 3.1 "Greening RTAs: Insights from Peru" by Ernesto GUEVARA, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Peru
  • 3.2 "Sustainability Toolkit for Trade Negotiators - UNEP approach on greening RTAs" by Ying ZHANG, U.N. Environment Programme

 

Contact us

For more information, please contact the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (OECD).

 

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