MAKING THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION GREEN
Dayal Singh Sandhya College, New Delhi
Sustainable development is the buzzword in policy-making circles and linking of trade among nations with environmental standards has been a part of discourse on conservation of environment since the 1990’s. This paper attempts to examine the position of United States of America on the issue of linking trade and environment in World Trade Organisation. It takes a look at the sincerity of US and other key member states of WTO about protecting the environment. The paper assesses the position of various members of WTO on the issue of environment in the various environment related trade disputes brought before the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism and through it, an effort is made to gauge the commitment of various countries to the cause of safeguarding the environment.Reconciling economic growth with environmental protection is one of the greatest challenges now facing policymakers. By the last decade of the 20th century, the gravity of global environmental problems such as ozone layer depletion, global warming and the resultant climate change had fully dawned upon us. With the available scientific evidence, it was amply clear that environmental issues could no longer be shelved into the background in the name of economic growth and development. Unfortunately, these twin goals are still widely seen as opposed to each other: the efforts for promoting one are often seen as discouraging the other. But it is also true that industry lobby might attimes lobby for a particular environmental measure for its protectionist benefits. But if we look at the larger picture, then industry would side with free trade on the linkage issue. Especially, industry with an international presence.Also most politicians and trade bureaucrats are skeptical of the demands of environmentalists. Although they might not say this in open. The United States has traditionally resisted participation in international institutional arrangements perceived as jeopardizing its political autonomy. There was nothing about the proposed NAFTA that suggested a change in this long running US position. In fact, it may be recalled that in the negotiations for NAFTA, among other factors, both Canada and Mexico were in favor of including environmental standards so as to curb US arbitrariness on this issue. Further, environmentalists expressed these anxieties before the passage of NAFTA and continue to express these same fears at the negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), where negotiators are ignoring environmental issues.The varying stand on environmental issues of US, EU, Japan and other major economies of the global trading system convincingly proves that it is not about environment but about protecting market share and trade interest and environment is used either as a shield or a weapon depending on the requirement of the situation by the developing world to protect its trade interests. So the fear of the developing countries about developed countries using environment to restrict their market access to the developed world markets are not completely unfounded. For all countries trade interest is paramount and their stand on environment changes according to what suits them in a situation.
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