4 May 2006 NEW INQUIRY

4 May 2006 NEW INQUIRY

Trade, Development and Environment: International Trade and the WTO

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) set up a Sub-committee on 26 January 2006 to conduct an inquiry into trade, development and the environment.

The Sub-committee has since expressed its intention to carry out a series of short inquiries in this area. In carrying out its work the Sub-Committee will be exploring the role of the UK Government, international organisations such as the World Bank and the WTO, the private sector - particularly large multinationals - and NGOs. The aim of these inquiries is to examine whether there is policy coherence to ensure that all the instruments being used for increasing development and trade in poorer countries are sustainable - by minimising environmental damage and impacts on climate, and protecting natural resources for future generations. They will also examine the position, and role, of the environment in poverty reduction, trade and development.

Its first inquiry, focusing on the role of the Department for International Development (DFID), is currently underway and it is expected that the main Committee will publish its Report in June 2006. The Sub-Committee is now launching its second inquiry into International Trade and the World Trade Organisation.

Great efforts are being made to reduce poverty in less developed countries whilst increasing world trade. These efforts include a strong impetus via the WTO and large multinationals to open up markets in developing countries. WTO negotiations include discussions on opening up access to services and non- agricultural products. Development agencies such as DFID are focusing on economic growth as central to reducing poverty, indeed DFID has a stated aim of increasing commercial agricultural production and export as the primary driver for development. All these issues raise questions concerning the compatibility of the drive for quick economic growth through increased trade with the international sustainable development agenda, and the part played in this by the WTO.

The Sub-committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on this inquiry. Some specific issues on which the Sub-committee would welcome comments are set out below, although respondents are free to comment on any issues which they consider relevant:

€ What is the impact of increased trade liberalisation on the environment?

€ To what extent should the WTO process encompass environmental considerations?

€ What is the role of multinational organisations, such as the World Bank and IMF, and the EU?

€ How are business and other interests influencing the trade agenda?

€ What are the likely impacts, beneficial or otherwise, of the Doha Round - if completed - on the environment?

€ Will the Doha 'Development' round produce the pro-development outcome originally intended? What should this include?

€ To what extent is the environment under the heading 'environmental services' being treated as a commodity within the WTO negotiations?

€ What coordination is there between the WTO process and International Environmental Agreements processes such as Kyoto and FLEGT?

€ How do DTI, DFID and DEFRA Ministers and officials co-ordinate their activities when planning their participation in different conferences - such as Kyoto in Montreal and WTO in Hong Kong - to ensure they are not pursuing contradictory measures on trade and environment?

€ How can we protect natural resources as a resource for the very poor as international trade increasingly impacts developing countries?

The Sub-Committee expects to take oral evidence on this inquiry in July 2006. Written evidence should be sent to the Committee by 15 June 2006, by e-mail to eacom@parliament.uk in WORD format. A brief guidance note on the preparation and submission of evidence is available on the Committee's web pages. For further information on the this inquiry, please telephone Elena Ares on 020-7219-4102.

Notes for Editors

Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet homepage.

Sub-Committee Membership

Chairman: Colin Challen MP

Ms Celia Barlow MP
Mr Martin Caton MP
David Howarth MP
Mr Edward Vaizey MP