Norsk forslag om forholdet mellom handelsforpliktelser i internasjonale miljøavtaler og WTO

Norge la 6. mai frem et innspill i diskusjonen om handelsforpliktelser under de multilaterale miljøavtalene (MEAs) og WTOs regelverk i WTOs spesialsesjon for handel og miljø (CTESS).


(REV 06.05.08)
Committee on Trade and Environment
CTE-Special Session (Open-ended) May 6th 2008
Intervention by Norway on paragraph 31(i) of the mandate.

 

Thank you Mr. Chair,
Norway wants to contribute to the discussion at this point of time to put forward a possible outcome in line with the mandate, to search for common ground taking into account the different views and concerns in the negotiations up to now.

1. In the meeting 27 February this year, Norway presented some thoughts on how to fulfil our mandate under paragraph 31(i). We want to refer to the thoughts being said that, but not repeat all details of what we said about two months ago.

Mr. chair,

2. Let me just restate our conclusion that in order to find consensus, it is of outmost importance not to upset the current balance between WTO rules and rules in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). –Indeed, it could well be that many of the proposals that have failed to win general acceptance so far have failed precisely because they tend to upset this balance or create hierarchy between WTO or MEAs.

3. We are still convinced that the key to finding a solution lies in sticking closely to the actual mandate as given in 31(i).
 
4. We would also like to note once more that the mandate asks us to negotiate on the relationship between existing WTO rules and specific trade obligations of MEAs, and that the mandate is specifically limited to the applicability of such existing WTO rules as among parties to the MEA in question. This, Mr.Chair, provides us with a clear direction for our negotiations and at the same time limits the scope of what can be achieved. As we have said on earlier occasions, the outcome will most likely be a confirmation of status quo. We have seen no indications so far that parties are inclined to agree on anything that upsets status quo in any direction.

5. In this context, Mr. Chairman, let me use this possibility to clear up what seems to be some misunderstandings on our position. We are grateful to some delegations that have made us aware of these misunderstandings, that relate in particular to the issue of national coordination when negotiation or implementing STOs. We are of course strongly in favour of coordination between different ministries and sectors at the national level.

6. However, we have not included it in our JOB document specifically– in the same way that many other interesting issues also have been left out of this document. On the other hand, if parties agree to text on national coordination, we have no objection as long as it is drafted in ways that do not imply hierarchy and do not give the impression that the trade community is describing how MEAs are going to be negotiated and implemented. Any reference to national coordination will have to be balanced. We have had problems with parts of the elements paper precisely for these reasons. This is why Norway, over a period of several months, has come up with concrete suggestions to amend relevant parts of this text. 

7. Mr. Chair, I would now like to refer to our intervention from February for further elaboration of our general views on the mandate, and turn directly to the JOB document submitted by us, that is JOB 08/33.

8. The first five paragraphs basically refer to the mandate of the Doha Declaration and the work undertaken in this committee. The sixth paragraph notes the principle of MEAs and the WTO agreement as instruments of equal standing between parties to the agreements. In our view, this principle provides an important part of any framework to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment as asked for by the ministers in Doha.

9. Paragraphs 7 and 8 also relate to the issue of mutual supportiveness between WTO rules and MEAs. In paragraph 8 we propose language asking WTO bodies as well as member states to be mindful of this mutual supportiveness when negotiating, interpreting, implementing and applying WTO rules and MEAs.
 
10. Before moving into paragraphs 9, 10 and 11; let m first make a correction to the text, Mr. Chairman: In paragraph 9 the reference should of course be to
specific trade obligations  between MEA parties, not to specific trade    measures.  These three paragraphs are dealing with what could be said to be the real core of the mandate, namely the applicability of WTO rules relating to STOs of MEAs (between parties to MEAs). In our view, it is clear that the question posed to us in the mandate will only be relevant in a situation where an STO between parties to an MEAN is brought before the WTO.

11. If such a situation should arise, it is equally clear that WTO rules will apply.

12. We do think it would be important, however, to note that no STO between MEA parties has been contested so far. It would also be an important observation that such STOs are unlikely to be challenged in the WTO in the future. These STOs are multilaterally negotiated, they are taking place between parties and they are specific in nature, and all these factors contribute to making such a scenario unlikely.

Mr Chair,
Paragraph 12 directs the regular Committee on Trade and Environment to facilitate information exchange on issues relating to the WTO Agreement and MEAs, through a mechanism that implements the par. 31 ii) of the mandate, thus addressing the comprehensive nature of our mandate given to us on environment. This reflects also what many members have argued for throughout the discussions in the negotiation process. In addresssing an outcome on par 31i), we want to focus solely on the mandate. At the same time we would like to underline the importance of the future scope of work on trade and environment. Hence, par 12 directs the CTE regular to continue its work based on the mandate on trade and environment given to this Committee in Marrakesh in 1994. It has to be underlined that this work programme sets out a broad perspective on the relationship between trade measures and environmental measures. Furthermore, the CTE regular future work is likely to include identification and exploration of relevant issues with regard to the relationship between trade and environment in order to further promote sustainable environment. We want to have a broad perspective with regard to the future work, on trade and environment, and do not want to exclude any issues relevant to further promoting sustainable development, and remain open in this regard.

Mr Chair,

13. We want to underline that development aspects and capacity building are important aspects of the interface of trade and environment, and that these issues merit further discussions. Our view is that these issues should be addressed as part of the comprehensive approach within our mandate. Furthermore, the result in par 31 ii) is also a relevant part of cooperation between multilateral environmental agreements and WTO, not least in addressing capacity building needs.

14. Norway has on earlier occasions informed the Committee on Trade and Environment in regular session on certain capacity building programmes on trade and environment, not least the cooperation agreement with UNEP. Developing countries participation in the MEAs are of outmost importance, and I can assure this committee that Norway's task and policy is to enhance the capacity for developing countries to do so, in particular least developed countries. Our JOB document highlights the principles of applicability of STOs in MEAs as such. The developmental aspects are not mentioned in particular in the text, but will definitely be an integral part of the future work on trade and environment.

15. To conclude, Mr. Chairman, we propose that this Committee conclude deliberations on this agenda item in line with what we have suggested in our JOB paper, and look forward to any comments and inputs delegates might have.


Proposal for a desicion of the Ministerial Conference on Trade and Environment, Submission by Norway