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International Trade and the Environment: The WTO and the New Beginning

Robert Page

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Market Access

At the November 1994 meeting there was spirited discussion of the issues related to the environment and market access. Countries like Argentina bitterly attacked the massive agricultural subsidies of some industrialized nations, which distort world trade in agricultural products, promoting overproduction and poor environmental practices in those countries. Some of the developing countries expressed their opinion that "environmental conservation and trade protection go hand in hand." Environment was increasingly being used "as a barrier to impede developing countries' access to developed countries markets." The United States cautioned that increased trade on its own did not ensure positive environmental consequences. They had to build a WTO committed to environmental considerations to avoid unsustainable growth. There were also criticisms that developed markets favoured the entry of raw materials, thus limiting value added in the developing world. The entry of more finished products would permit more economic diversification and less pressure to overproduce environmentally sensitive natural products. In this, as in several other areas, there was fundamental distrust between North and South, which will be a continuing problem for the effectiveness of the Committee.[6]

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