Reigniting Old Flames: The Liberalisation of Trade in Environmental Goods and Services


Collin Zhuawu
Kimonique Powell


This study traces the evolution of the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on liberalising trade in Environmental Goods and Services (EGS). It explores the challenges and opportunities faced by Commonwealth small states and countries in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) in participating in EGS discussions. Small states and SSA countries have been primarily absent from the multilateral discussions on EGS for reasons that include insufficient trade-related interests in environmental goods. Notwithstanding, these countries should partake in these discussions especially amid the changing economic and trading landscape of the 21st century and concomitant changes in the environment. International trade is not as it was in 2001 when these negotiations began and likewise environmental concerns like climate change now pose an existential threat to mankind. The study begins by mapping the progression of the EGS negotiations at the WTO including attempts at establishing a plurilateral environment goods agreement. Thereafter, the paper analyses the trade-related interests of Commonwealth small states and SSA countries in EGS. The challenges and opportunities they face in participating in negotiations on liberalising trade in EGS are then highlighted. The paper concludes by identifying the priorities that these countries might consider should they decide to participate in the WTO EGS discussions.



8 June 2022

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