The current economic paradigm supporting freer trade and multilateralism needs to be viewed in a broader context of trade-economic growth-environment and sustainable development. In the absence of such an integration the free trade phenomena are unlikely to be sustainable. The externalities of global trade expansion include the impact of trade on the environment. This impact has temporal and spatial variations, with the implications for a delicate balancing of some of the conflicting objectives. The greater the awareness of the implicit and explicit tradeoffs in this regard, the greater will be the potential for sustainable free trade phenomena. Subject to certain conditions, trade expansion tends to enhance the technical and financial resource potential to address environmental problems attributable to both trade and non-trade effects. The key issue here is whether such potential will, in fact, be properly tapped to mitigate the emergence of adverse environmental features and phenomena (resulting from anthropogenic or other influences).
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an eminently qualified institution to achieve both the objectives of promoting multilateral trade as well as enhancing the quality of the environment. The complementarity of trade and the environment was recognized (albeit partially) even at the early stage of launching this new institution. The preamble to the charter of the WTO clarifies this position in least ambiguous terms. However, it is by no means an easy task to evolve a consensus among all the member countries regarding some of the specific operational norms for conducting multilateral trade activities in order to achieve the agreed upon objectives.
This book augments some of the knowledge regarding the policy and practice aspects of world trade so as to achieve the complementarity of trade and the environment. After a critical review of some of the conventional trade theories, later chapters address the issues of integration of trade and environmental policies, and provide a pragmatic perspective. This perspective is expected to be useful for the WTO and its member (and potential member) countries and various international/national institutions. Much of the discussion and