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

Robert Page

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An Environmental Review of the Uruguay Round

As part of the implementing strategy of the Uruguay Round, Canada produced an environmental review of the domestic impacts of the Agreement.1 While not as substantial as the NAFTA review, and without input from the relevant subcommittees of the International Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), it was nonetheless a useful internal exercise in weighing the internal impacts and illustrating some of the issues which government officials felt were important. The document avoids taking any very clear stands for Canada. Its basic assumptions and conclusions are quite conservative. "The trade liberalizing effect of the Uruguay Round will promote the more efficient allocation and use of resources and thereby contribute to an increase in production and incomes and to a lessening of demands on the environment." The achievements of the Uruguay Round are presented in a very positive light, and the work program of the WTO, it is argued, "will ensure that progress continues." In the final sentence, the emphasis is on "sustainable wealth generation" not sustainable development.[2] There does not appear to be any reason for structural changes or adaptations to meet these challenges, and there is some thought that intellectual research and debate must proceed, perhaps even in another forum, before any structural changes to WTO institutions can be achieved.

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