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Role of World Trade Organization in Environmental Protection?

Role of World Trade Organization (WTO) in Environmental Protection.


Environment is a non-trade issue. However, WTO has come to dominate the WTO environmental standards, WTO environmental issues, WTO environmental disputes, WTO environmental policy and agenda.


Objective of World trade organization


Objective of World trade organization are depicted in following image.


Objective of World trade organization

Image credits © Manoj Patil.



World trade organization objective are follows:


  1. Free and fair trade.
  2. Trade without obstruction.

Trade has grown dramatically in last decades due to reduction in tariff barriers because of WTO agreement. Rio Declaration on Environment and Agenda 21 considers the need for adopting policies for sustainable development on the global basis. The meeting also decided on to work on trade and environment. This program is organised by WTO under CTE (Committee on Trade and Environment).


Role of World Trade Organization (WTO) in Environmental Protection are follows:



1. Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE)


The report of CTE was submitted to WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore in December, 1996. The committee's business is guided by two principles


  1. The WTO is only competent to deal with trade, and it is not an environmental agency, and
  2. Asper WTO member's belief; they should uphold the principles in the WTO trading system to be a multilateral, non-discriminatory and equitable organization.

At last, CTE report recognizes that there is a close link between poverty and environmental degradation. It is possible that trade liberalization can help to improve aggregate environment standards globally in the long run.


2. Doha Declaration 2001


The Doha Ministerial Declaration of November 2001, reaffirmed the organization's commitment to sustainable development. Due to the insistence of EU, Japan, Norway and Switzerland, the Doha round is the first trade round in which the environment is really part of agenda. The Doha Development Agenda (DDA) contains, a series of serious commitments to discuss and possible negotiations on major trade and environment issues.


Doha Round says, "We are convinced that the aims of upholding and safeguarding an open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, and acting under the protection of environment and the promotion of sustainable development can and must be mutually supportive."


3. Agreement on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures


This agreement has got 15 Articles. Sanitary and PhytoSanitary measures aim at protecting animal, plant life or health within the territory in a member country from risks arising out of diseases carried by animals, plants or products.


4. Polluter Pays Principle


This principle states that the polluting unit has to pay for damage and destruction caused by it to the natural environment. Polluter pays system is also known by the term Extended Polluter Responsibility (EPR).


5. Ecological Taxation


It is an extension of polluter pay principle, it explains the differential manner in which the charges are levied. No tax or lesser tax on activities which need support and promotion. Higher taxes on actions which use and harm land and natural resources.


Many free-traders argue that WTO has nothing to do with environmental concerns It is not an appropriate institution for environmental concerns However, WTO and environment are naturally linked and the role of WTO in environmental protection should be active.


WTO has a very crucial role to play in finding out solutions and settling such non-tariff matters, which affect trade. Environmental protection has emerged stronger because of better environmental awareness among the communities.


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