Should Trade Agreements Include Environmental Policy

Given the novelty of the widespread integration of environmental legislation into EPAs and the lively debate on the nature and impact of trade policy, better data and research are needed to understand and analyse this development. Other environmental provisions of the TPP were designed to protect U.S. industry and improve regulatory competition conditions while protecting the environment. First, the removal of tariffs on environmental goods and services (Article 20.18) would benefit the growing U.S. environment sector, whose exports were estimated at $106 billion in 2013. Another provision required the parties to take “anti-fight measures” for the trade in wildlife taken in violation of party law or any other party. (Article 20.17). This provision was intended to reduce illegal trade, which is in unfair competition with U.S. production. Another provision provided that the parties could not weaken environmental legislation in order to increase trade or investment. (Article 20.3).

The innovative and interactive online trend analytics tool, based on the Trade and Environment (TREND) database, which traces nearly 300 different environmental provisions in the texts of approximately 630 PTAs, offers new ways to go further and conduct research to provide detailed information on the interaction between trade and the environment and to provide a new insight into a series of relevant policy discussions. This briefing paper summarizes the latest research findings on the basis of TREND and provides a new overview of these issues and political discussions at the interface of international trade and the environment. Until recently, environmental concerns played only a marginal role in trade policy. World Trade Organization (WTO) rules rarely affect environmental issues and contain primarily a derogation clause for environmental protection (GATT, Article XX). However, the growing number of modern preferential trade agreements (EPAs) covers a growing range of policy areas that go well beyond traditional tariff reductions, including environmental legislation.

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