Environment Still Off World Trade Talks Agenda

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 31, 2001 (ENS) - The odds of a new round of world trade negotiations including substantive talks on environmental issues have lengthened following the emergence of a new draft text for ministerial agreement at the Doha summit, due to start on November 9. Despite strong pressure from the European Union, the draft proposes no new environmental negotiations.

Backed by several countries including Japan, the EU has consistently championed calls for clarification of the relationship between world trade and environmental rules since the last WTO ministerial summit in Seattle in 1999. It faces trenchant opposition from developing countries, which suspect hidden protectionist motives.


Former New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore is director-general of the WTO (Photo courtesy WTO)
The new draft text further develops a first set of WTO proposals for the negotiating agenda to be agreed at Doha, Qatar, issued in late September. As in the earlier document, rather than agreeing to negotiations it instructs the WTO trade and environment committee to pursue its work and report back in 2003.

An EU spokesperson acknowledged that there has been "little movement" towards the bloc's demands but refused to accept any hint of defeat. "Environment was, still is and will be a very important issue for the EU," the spokesperson said, adding, "We are at the beginning of negotiations."

In contrast, European environmentalists said they were "stunned" by the new draft, and accused the WTO of moving to open negotiations on all the new issues opposed by NGOs while adding "nothing new on the environment and sustainability."


{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}