Bridges Trade BioRes ReviewVolume 6Number 4 • November 2012

The APEC game changer

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For those of us tracking trade and environment issues, the news that Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries were close to striking a deal on environmental goods was no surprise. Still, the final approval of 54 goods for trade liberalisation in September was hailed as a major breakthrough.

For one thing, the fact that the goods are all considered “environmental” in nature is remarkable. Indeed, while countries have been struggling for years to pin down exactly what is meant by an “environmental good,” APEC member countries forged ahead to seal the world’s first international deal on such goods.

It is not yet clear what effect, if any, the APEC deal will have on negotiations at the WTO. At an 18 November meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Environment, Russia and Australia introduced the topic of the APEC agreement for discussion. Members were clearly divided on the issue.

While some said they thought the APEC deal presented an opportunity for making progress on environmental goods and services, others said they did not want it to influence talks at the WTO.

But despite what influence the APEC deal will have on global trade negotiations, what effect will the liberalisation of trade in the 54 goods have on the environment? Mahesh Sugathan and Thomas Brewer offer an extensive analysis of the goods list in this issue of BioRes Review. They explore the details of the list itself and analyse what impact the deal could have on scaling-up renewable energy opportunities and mitigating climate change.

With climate change on the radar of many at this time of year, this issue also features a submission by South Africa’s Brendan Vickers, which identifies the ways in which trade is influencing negotiations at the UNFCCC, particularly with respect to “response measures” discussions.

This issue also features a series of articles on trade in natural resources, an issue that is increasingly a topic of discussion at the multilateral and regional levels. While many resources are coming under increasing pressure, a number of countries are using trade policies to manage supplies as well as imports and exports.

These core issues and several other trade and environment topics are explored in this last issue of 2012. Be sure to continue to follow our steady stream of news on our website and on our social networks.
The BioRes Team

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