The WTO’s website states the following. “Issues relating to trade, the environment and sustainable development more generally, have been discussed in the GATT and in the WTO for many years. Environment is a horizontal issue that cuts across different rules and disciplines in WTO. The issue has been considered by Members both in terms of the impact of environmental policies on trade, and of the impact of trade on the environment.” Yes, indeed. Before the Stockholm Conference in 1972, the GATT Secretariat prepared a study in 1971 on “Industrial Pollution Control and International Trade”, flagging what today would be called green protectionism. The Group on Environmental Measures and Trade (EMIT) was also set up in 1971, although it did not meet for 20 years. But there were several reasons why the environment was becoming important as an issue. First, Article XX of GATT had in any case allowed exceptions on grounds on protecting the environment. Second, the Tokyo Round (1973-79) led to the agreement on technical barriers to trade (TBT) and the Uruguay Round (1986-94) contributed an agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), apart from environmental clauses in agreements on agriculture, subsidies and countervailing measures, intellectual property and services, not to speak of the Preamble to the WTO agreement. interventions.
September 2006, volume 30, No 9