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Trade Related Environmental Measures in Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the WTO: Irreconcilable Differences?

Author(s): Nidhi Singh

Journal: American Journal of Economics and Business Administration
ISSN 1945-5488

Volume: 1;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 251;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: World trade organization | TREMs | MEAs | public international law | sustainable development | environment

Problem statement: WTO adopted a multilateral trading system without ignoring the importance of protecting environment. Exceptions in Article XX, Clause (b) and (g) checks trade at the cost of environment. It is difficult to establish a relationship between Trade Related Environmental Measures (TREMs) in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. For the past ten years there have been simultaneous efforts to reconcile the differences between the two. Approach: Therefore, the author was intrigued by this topic and followed an analytical method of study with the help of various WTO documents available online as well as in books. Against this background, this article pursues three main goals to achieve. Firstly, it examines whether Public International law can be used in the WTO. In answering this question the author analyses the relationship between Trade Measures in MEA and WTO and how a meaningful balance can be struck between the two. The author has tried to find a solution to such conflicts in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The Public International Law by applying the principle of lex specialis settles the conflict in favor of environment. Results: But somehow for years, WTO and its Dispute Settlement Body have been settling disputes between trade and environment in favor of trade. The second goal of this study is to determine whether sustainable development and its principles are intending to achieve a normative status in International law. In examining this issue it is pertinent to note that the International Case laws like the Gabcikovo Nagymaros Dispute becomes of utmost importance. The treaty laws also add to the presence of Sustainable Development. The author has also discussed the response of the WTO to sustainable development in the light of leading case laws. Conclusion: Towards the end the author has offered humble suggestions to reconcile the differences between TREMs in MEAs and WTO norms using sustainable development as an effective tool. The application of only the WTO law is not sufficient; it should also apply International law to the disputes. Such an approach would help in handling climatic changes and trade in genetically modified organisms.

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