27. Trade liberalisation and environmental protection are equally important objectives. Provided that the right policy framework is in place, they should be mutually supportive in favour of sustainable development. The removal of trade obstacles should contribute to achieving a more efficient use of the Earth's natural resources in both economic and environmental terms an to lessening pressures on the environment. However, the environmental benefits of trade liberalisation are not automatic. They can only be derived if appropriate environmental policies and sustainable development strategies are implemented nationally and internationally. If this condition is not met, trade liberalisation can act as a magnifier of policy and market failures.
28. The work of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment
(CTE) is particularly important. This committee is emerging as
a major forum to address the interlinkages between trade and
environment, especially in the view of the fact that it can
make recommendations on whether any modifications to the
provisions of the multilateral trading system are
required. We are of the view that, in order to perform
effectively its tasks, the CTE:
The work of the CTE should also be action-oriented. The Singapore Ministerial Conference will be a first test of the ability of the WTO to integrate environmental protection and sustainable development concerns into the multilateral trading system. We must ensure that any agreements do not weaken environmental policies.
29. We consider that the WTO should be supportive of efforts to promote a positive framework to acknowledge the importance of greater internalization of environmental costs. We call upon the WTO to examine the relationship between the trade rules and environmental principles, including the polluter-pays principle (PPP) and the precautionary principle.
30. To make sure that they encourage industry to operate in a more ecologically-aware fashion, we shall work to ensure that the WTO rules, and in particular those on technical barriers to trade, do not hinder the development of voluntary ecolabelling schemes based on life-cycle analysis, but on the contrary further their utilization and effectiveness by encouraging the use of instruments to promote transparency and consultation, while avoiding trade protectionism.
31. It is particularly important to devise effective solutions
to prevent conflicts between the WTO rules and MEA's and to
ensure that trade measures pursuant to MEA's find accommodation
within the WTO system.
We should seek to narrow the gap between environmental protection goals and those pertaining to development. We have a duty to play an instrumental role in search for an understanding with the developing countries that gives proper weight to the concerns of everyone. WTO members should fulfill the terms of the agreement establishing it which recognize that parties should conduct their trade and economic relations while allowing for the optimal use of the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, seeking to protect and preserve the environment.
32. We welcome the decision on trade, environment and sustainable development of the 4th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and the CSD (United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development) have important mandates on trade and environment. We will work to ensure greater complementary and closer cooperation between UNEP, CSD, WTO, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and the OECD, with a view to avoiding duplication and taking advantage of the special expertise of each organization.
33. Beyond encouraging transfers of environmentally-friendly technologies, we should promote trade in environmentally-friendly commodities and raw materials, particularly for the benefit of developing countries; greater transparency on the subject of standards and environmental regulations, as well as in eco-labelling programmes should be achieved.
34. We will encourage the less-developed countries to participate more actively in the debate, in particular in future meetings and negotiations at the WTO, UNCTAD, UNEP and the ISO, and at the major conventions on the environment.
35. As far as the Singapore Conference is concerned, we emphasized the importance of achieving environmentally favourable agreement, and we underlined our particular interest in progress on MEA's and ecolabelling. The Singapore Conference should also mandate the committee on trade and environment ministries from all parts of the world. We committed ourselves to consult NGO's on those issues, through the appropriate channels.
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