WTO Negotiating Strategy on Environmental Goods and Services for Asian Developing Countries E-mail
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The key to successful negotiations lies in the ability and capacity of the negotiating participants to feel that it can result in a “win-win” mutually beneficial outcome for all concerned – or in the case of the WTO environmental goods and services negotiations, a “win-win-win” outcome for trade, environment, and development. This means that participants must be willing to adopt “integrative” approaches to the negotiations – i.e. the participants must be willing to work towards a negotiated outcome that addresses their respective interests in an integrated manner.

The achievement by the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its development objectives depends, in large part, on the ability of the organization’s institutional governance mechanisms to balance competing interests among Members, reflect and take into account differing perspectives, provide adequate mechanisms to address and redress institutional structural deficiencies, and ensure equitable and fair decision-making outcomes. The current impasse in the negotiations reflects the difficulties that Members face in doing this balancing act.

WTO Negotiating Strategy on Environmental Goods and Services for Asian Developing Countries,
ICTSD Issue Paper by Vicente Paolo Yu

In 2005, the global environment industry was estimated to be USD607 billion, with the US, Western Europe and Japan together accounting for 84 percent of this market. The global exports of environmental goods (EGs), as classified by the OECD list, for 2002 was estimated to be USD238 billion. An UNCTAD study has pointed out, that “developing countries have an important export surplus with developed countries in a number of groups of EGs, in particular EPPs, including manufactured apparel from natural cotton fibers, apparel manufactured from natural wool and silk fibres, wood and wood-based products, clean fuels and renewable energy, other Type A EGs [these include manufactured goods and chemicals used directly in the provision of environmental services], and the core list of EPPs.” In terms of sectors of the global environmental market, the environmental services (ES) sector (including resource management and energy) is much larger than the goods sector. In 2001, environmental services accounted for 78 percent of the total market by value.

However, although regional levels of South-South trade in Asia and Latin America are relatively high (showing that the potential for increased South-South trade in EGs exist in these regions), EG trade flows continue to be predominantly North-South in orientation. Developing economies continue to rely on developed economies as their principal source of EG imports (82 percent of developing country EG imports came from the North in 2000), and developing country exports continue to be predominantly directed to the closest developed country markets.

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