Global Environment

"Achieving Harmony in Trade and Environment: The Way Forward"
Report on the NGO's side event at the Fifth WTO Ministerial Meeting
September 10, 2003, at the Hotel Sierra Conference Room 2

Held in Cancun Mexico from September 10 to 14 2003, the fifth WTO Ministerial Meeting ended without showing any progress toward trade liberalization. The "Development Agenda" launched at Doha meeting was to conclude a comprehensive agreement by January 1, 2005, but the breakdown of Cancun meeting that marked the mid-point on the negotiation schedule would make it extremely difficult to reach that agreement within the set time frame, and might even raise doubts on the significance of WTO itself. In response to recently growing awareness of the importance of environmental agreements, and in consideration of the difficulties of harmonizing free trade and environmental protection, a new round negotiation has accepted "environment" as one of the negotiation agenda for the first time, after the active exchange of various intentions and views. GISPRI has participated in the Joint US-Japan Task Force on "Achieving Harmony in Trade and Environment," since 2002 in cooperation with an American research institute, "Global Environment and Trade Studies (GETS)", in order to further raise the understanding of general public on the importance of harmonization between environment and trade, and conducted analytical studies in search of the way to promote the reconciliation of economic development and environmental protection.. At this WTO Ministerial Meeting, the Joint Task Force hosted a side event on September 10 at the Hotel Shierra, which housed the NGO Center, and presented policy recommendations.

The side event was divided into two panel sessions, consisting of 10 minute policy recommendation presentations, and about an hour-long question and answer sessions. Attracted the audience of about 50 people each, two panel sessions occasioned active discussion with perceptive questions from the floor. Stated below are the program and the names of the panelists:

Panel 1: Achieving harmony in Trade and Environment:
New views from the Pacific

Chair: Mark Richie (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)
Panelist: Kenichi Imai and Moustapha Kamal Gueye (IGES)
Hiroshi Odawara and Ibuki Hiruta (GISPRI)
Ken Matsumoto (Center for Fair Trade and WTO Studies)

Panel 2: Achieving harmony in Trade and Environment
10 years of experiences

Chair: Takashi Iwamoto (Center for Fair Trade and WTO Studies)
Panelists: Monica Araya (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy)
Mitsuo Matsushita (Seikei University)
Daniel C. Esty (GETS)

The Panel-1 mainly introduced the result of a study that analyzed trade and environment issue from the viewpoints of Japan and Asia. In particular, GISPRI submitted two policy recommendations on how to promote capacity building and technical assistance in trade and environment. First recommendation was founded on the fact that, despite the colossal amount of funds and labors provided by UN institutes, environmental agreement secretariats and many other international institutes, including OECD, UNEP, UNDP and UNIDO in addition to WTO, the institutional and knowledge development in developing countries has been far from satisfactory. The recommendation called for the need to go beyond the conceptual boundaries of "trade promotion" and "environmental protection," to mutually coordinate their aid activities, and to focus on activities that were most fitted to the expertise of each institute. By doing so, one could expect the maximum effect with minimum financial, human, and time resources.

Second policy recommendation submitted at the Panel-1 stressed the need of active participation by developing countries in capacity building activities, as it would be impossible to effectively implement such activities without a thorough understanding on the needs of developing countries. It especially noted the availability of national communication in the Framework Convention on Climate Change as it can be used as a useful tool to get the basic knowledge about the needs of developing countries.

In addition, IGES presented their report on the relationship between WTO and FTA in the field of trade and environment in Asia, and Ken Matsumoto introduced the research reports prepared by Prof. Shin-ya Murase of Sophia University and Prof. Mitsutsune Yamaguchi of Keio University.

At the Panel-2, the panelists suggested that (building a trustful relationship between all stakeholders in South and North would accelerate the progress of "environment" issues, as indicated by the evolution and experiences of 10-year debate on "trade and environment." They also stressed the need to prepare more detailed guideline on how to address environmental issues within the frameworks of WTO treaties.

The GETS project is to continue its studies for another year. The environmental issues may not be the hottest issue in WTO negotiation, but it is apparent that no one can overlook this issue any longer. Moreover, its importance is likely to increase even more in the future. Through the GETS project, we hope to further address the question of reconciliation of economic development and environmental protection in the international community, so that the issue will draw more attention from, and be fully addressed by, various forums including WTO.

Note: The details of policy recommendations from the GETS project can be downloaded from:
(CD-ROM version is also available.)