The WTO and Sustainable Development

The WTO and Sustainable Development

The WTO and Sustainable Development

The WTO and Sustainable Development

Synopsis

This book argues that the WTO has evolved into a World Trade and Sustainable Development Organization. Many of the issues that are on the WTO agenda -endangered species, public health, genetic modification, the patenting of life forms -are far from what could be considered traditional trade policy matters. Some have already proven to be particularly controversial, and as the organization continues to extend its reach more controversy is sure to come. Sampson offers policy alternatives that are both ambitious and realistic in terms of achieving greater coherence and a mutually supportive approach to policy formulation in trade and sustainable development."One of the most pressing challenges with which the WTO is confronted today is how to reconcile free trade and sustainable development.... Sampson's analysis of this challenge is sharp and his suggestions are full of wisdom. I regard this book to be a very important contribution to the study of the WTO." -Mitsuo Matsushita, founding member of the WTO Appellate Body, and professor of law at Seikei Law School, Tokyo

Excerpt

The world trading system and the role it plays in international economic and political relations have changed dramatically in the past half-century. Barriers to trade have been greatly reduced, trade itself has mushroomed, new and far-reaching rules governing trade have been written, and many more countries have now joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) and therefore play by those rules. This timely book investigates one important, sometimes controversial, aspect of this change – the relationship between trade and sustainable development. Given the evolution of the rules-based trading system, as well as the growing attention paid to policies designed to achieve sustainable development, there has been an increasing overlap between what have now become “trade” policies and policies relating to sustainable development.

It is not really in question whether or not this overlap ought to exist. In my view, the factual position is that it simply does exist. It is a natural outcome of the definition of sustainable development, as well as the objectives of the multilateral trading system. In common usage, the term “sustainable development” means securing a growth path that provides for the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. From a policy perspective, the pursuit of sustainable development requires a careful balancing between progress in each of its pillars: policies designed to advance economic development, for instance; to conserve the environment; and to ensure social progress. On the trade side, the WTO of course seeks to . . .

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