Trade, Environment, and the WTO: The Post-Seattle Agenda

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What role should international trade rules and the World Trade Organization (WTO) play in the protection of the environment? While many environmentalists argue that trade rules and procedures must be made more green, many trade proponents fear that the international trading system will be undermined by extreme demands of environmentalists. In this essay, Gary Sampson scrutinizes these contending views and assesses the effects of trade liberalization on the environment; the role of the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism; the potential impact of WTO rules, including those dealing with production processes; and the relationship that should exist between the WTO and specific multilateral environmental agreements. In his discussion of these issues, Sampson puts forward a priority agenda for trade and environmental ministers and proposes ways to enhance the WTO's environmental protection role and strengthen the trading system at the same time.