Trade and Environment in the WTO: Negotiating Options for Developing Countries

Abstract: The debate on the trade related environment issues has intensified in the Doha Round at WTO. The idea is to ensure sustainable development as proclaimed in the Preamble to the Marrakesh Agreement. At the Doha Ministerial Conference, Committee on Trade and Environment and the Committee on Trade and Development at the WTO were asked to act as a forum in which the environmental and developmental aspects of the negotiations launched at Doha could be debated. The Paragraph 31 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration is the operative paragraph that sets the guidelines for negotiations on the relationship between WTO rules and specific trade obligations as set out in MEAs and on the reduction or, as appropriate, the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services. This has encouraged India and other developing countries to approach the trade and environment debate in a new dimension. The project based approach instead of the usual list based approach is a major addition to this new strategy, developing countries seems to be thinking of to keep commitment for the sustainable development at the centre stage. The new approach may also help in ensuring access to environmentally sound technologies urgently needed by many developing and least developed countries.