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News & Events

Tánaiste welcomes progress on trade and the environment at the WTO

Ministers commit to use trade to take meaningful climate action

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD today welcomed the WTO Ministerial Statements pledging to intensify WTO work on initiatives to support environmental and climate goals and promote more sustainable production and consumption. 

The WTO today launched three “plurilateral” Ministerial Statements on (i) Trade and Environmental Sustainability, (ii) Plastic Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade, and (iii) Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform. 

Commenting on the launch, the Tánaiste said:

“These Statements, which Ireland supports, are an important signal from the WTO that International Trade has a critical role to play in slowing climate change. Countries will work together to promote and facilitate trade in environmental goods and services, sharing experiences of effective approaches to move towards a more circular, resource efficient and environmentally sustainable plastics trade, and the development of concrete options to phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. Ireland looks forward to actively progressing this work over the next year in collaboration with our WTO partners”.

Notes for the Editor

Ministerial Statement on Trade and Environmental Sustainability

This statement resulted from the WTO Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD). Launched in November 2020, TESSD is intended to complement the existing work of the WTO's Committee on Trade and Environment and other relevant WTO committees and bodies. The initiative, which is open to all members, seeks to promote transparency and information sharing, identifying areas for future work within the WTO. 

Key areas for action identified in the statement include:

  • expand opportunities for environmentally sustainable trade
  • dedicated discussions on how trade-related climate measures and policies can best contribute to climate and environmental goals and commitments
  • explore opportunities and possible approaches for promoting and facilitating trade in environmental goods and services
  • identify and compile best practices to support the circular economy
  • promoting sustainable supply chains
  • strengthening capacity building and technical assistance on trade and environmental sustainability, particularly for developing and least developed countries
  • continued discussions on the environmental effects and trade impacts of relevant subsidies

The statement has 71 co-signatories (including the European Union and the 27 EU Member States).

The statement on Trade and Environmental Sustainability is available here

Ministerial Statement on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade

Launched in November 2020 by a group of WTO members, the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Trade seeks to mitigate the rising environmental, health and economic cost of plastics pollution. The aim of the group is to complement discussions in the WTO's Committee on Trade and Environment and other fora.

Key areas for action identified in the statement include:

  • Identifying ways to improve the understanding of global trade in plastics, including flows of plastics embedded in internationally traded goods
  • sharing experiences of effective approaches to move towards more circular, resource efficient and environmentally sustainable plastics trade
  • Trade-related capacity building and technical assistance needs of developing members; cooperating with other relevant international processes and efforts
  • dedicated discussions regarding how trade-related cooperation could help to support efforts to reduce unnecessary or harmful plastics and plastic products
  • how to promote trade in goods and services including the use of technologies that can reduce plastic pollution

The statement has 67 co-signatories (including the European Union and the 27 EU Member States).

The statement on Plastics Trade is available here

Background – Ministerial Statement on Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Building on the previous related statement in MC11, this statement aims to advance work in the WTO on fossil fuel subsidies reform, starting with the development of transparency and information sharing among the WTO membership while recognising that reform needs to take fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing Members. 

The key updates refer to the global economic context as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a clear timeframe for developing options for advancing the issue at the WTO.

The statement has 44 co-signatories (including the European Union and the 27 EU Member States).

The statement on Fossil Fuel Subsidies is available here