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International Trade and the Environment: The WTO and the New Beginning

Robert Page

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WTO Trade and Environment Sub-Committee

In the fall of 1994, the Trade and Environment SubCommittee of the WTO Preparatory Committee began work in advance of the launching of the WTO itself. Its work began with serious tensions between the parties over structure, mandate, and work plan. There was serious debate between southern developing countries and the developed countries of the North. Some in the South opposed its existence, while others in the North wanted a more vigorous addressing of the problems. Some in the trade community saw the subcommittee as a dangerous precedent, while some in the NGO community had unrealistic expectations about what might be accomplished, given the structure of the WTO. There were also concerns about the transition from the GATT to the WTO, and its was decided to overlap one year to allow GATT to complete work in progress. The following is a summary of some of the Committee's work thus far.

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