WTO Ministerial Conference on Trade and Sustainability


Dear Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ministers, Ambassadors, and Distinguished Participants,

The OECD welcomes the Ministerial Statements on Trade and Environmental Sustainability, on Plastic Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade, and on Fossil Fuel Subsidies.

These are important milestones in promoting environmentally sustainable trade that will drive stronger, more resilient growth, more jobs, and higher living standards, while helping to reduce pollution and combat climate change.
We have a collective responsibility to act now, to counter the devastating impact of environmental degradation on our economies and societies.

For this, we need to design and implement trade and sustainability policies that are more effective, less costly, less market-distorting, and less environmentally harmful.

Finding common ground will require investments in transparency and knowledge sharing, along with support to help all countries improve resilience and ensure a fair transition.

For example, our latest analysis derived from the OECD Green Recovery database found that 10% of recovery spending in the OECD, EU and Key Partner countries has mixed or negative impacts on the environment.

Much more needs to be done if we are to drive transformational changes, in line with commitments made at COP26 on climate and COP15 on biodiversity.

These Ministerial Statements build strong momentum for these endeavours.

The OECD stands ready to support the implementation of these Statements through robust data and analysis to inform and shape smart, evidence-based policies that support the net-zero transition, foster innovation and promote open markets.

Let me cite three ways we can support your important work.

First, we are working to show how trade underpins the circular economy and how trade reforms can promote a net-zero world.

We are tracking both the trade in green goods and services, and the barriers to that trade, to make the case for reforms to ensure that green goods and services can be available worldwide.

Global trade in environmental goods increased by 52.8% between 2007 and 2019, however, due to continued higher tariffs, developing economies do not benefit as much as they could from this increase.

We help drive and support a more ambitious, effective and globally co-ordinated action on climate change.

We have launched and started to deliver on the International Programme for Action on Climate (IPAC), and we proposed a new initiative to help facilitate, over time, an appropriately ambitious, multilaterally agreed and globally more coherent and better coordinated approach to the pricing of emissions.

Building on the success of our Inclusive Framework on International Tax Reform, we propose to work with the IMF and the WTO on a multilateral approach to ensure individual jurisdictions can lift their ambition and effort on climate to the level required to get to net-zero emissions, while maintaining a global level playing field for trade, avoiding unfair trade distortions and carbon leakage implications.

We help build more resilient and sustainable global value chains through our tools such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE) and the Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct. And we support multilateral trade negotiations by improving transparency across countries.

Second, we provide data on the whole life cycle of plastics in our Global Plastics Outlook, and track and publish government measures to control transboundary movements of plastic waste.

We also identify best practices to address ghost fishing gear, a major source of ocean plastic pollution, in addition to measuring fisheries subsidies.

Lastly, we are tackling environmentally harmful policies by defining, identifying and tracking government subsidies for fossil fuels, agriculture and fisheries. This helps to better understand the real cost of such policies and to make them more effective, less market-distorting and less harmful to the environment.

Inefficient government support or subsidies not only have a negative impact on our collective efforts to achieve net-zero emissions, but also on our biodiversity, water, and air quality.

Let me close by offering congratulations for the adoption of the Joint Statement Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation.

This is a major achievement. Actions by WTO Members representing over 90% of global services trade will support people and companies, especially small and medium enterprises, working in the services economy to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have estimated that annual cost savings from reduced red tape and increased transparency could amount to USD 150 billion globally. And this is good news for exporters of environment-related services.
Count on the OECD’s continued full support in meeting the challenges ahead.

Thank you.


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