In the Doha Round negotiations,WTO Members are considering certain aspects of the link between trade and the environment; in particular, defining the relationship betweenWTO rules and trade obligations ofmultilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), as well as setting up a procedure for regular exchange of information betweenMEAs and theWTO. Accordingly, negotiations on these issues take place in “special sessions” of the Trade and Environment Committee (CTE).
Yet, progress on this front in the CTE has been slow due to divisions of opinion betweenWTO Members. In this context, on 1-2 November 2007, the CTE held a special session concerning the contents of a draft text which could provide a template for future Doha Round negotiations on the relationship betweenWTO rules and specific trade obligations (STOs) set out inMEAs.
However, discussions on dispute settlement aspects ofWTO-MEA coordination ran into difficulties. An EU submission (TN/TE/W/68), according to whichWTO panels would ask for and defer toMEA expertise when considering environment-related issues was not supported by the US and Australia, as well as several developing countries.
In contrast an Australia-Argentina proposal (TN/TE/W/72/Rev.1), whichmerely requested the CTE special session to recommend ways in whichMembers could negotiate and implement STOs inMEAs in order to enhance their relationship withWTO rules, garneredmore support.