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Wto Meeting (Cancun)

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what proposals the department has put forward for increasing the importance attributed to protecting the environment in taking forward world trade reform at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Cancun. [130295]

The UK, with DTI and DEFRA as the lead departments, has taken a central role in determining the European Union's negotiating position on trade and environment issues. Despite the collapse of Cancun, we will continue to work towards achieving a successful outcome at the WTO and jointly ensuring the implementation of the WSSD Commitments.One of the WTO trade and environment negotiating mandates is to clarify the relationship between WTO rules and specific trade obligations in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). The EU's overall aim is to ensure that these two bodies of international law are mutually supportive. With a view to better informing the WTO debate, at Cancun, the EU proposed that agreement be reached to formalise the observer role of MEAs, UNEP and UNCTAD in the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment Special Sessions. The text under discussion when the Conference collapsed had taken on board the EU view by making clear that MEAs and UN agencies should be given observer status in the Committee on Trade and Environment Special Sessions.The EU has also been the main driver supporting further work on eco-labelling and increased market access for environmental goods. At Cancun, the EU proposed that agreement should be reached on a new WTO Committee on Trade and Environment work programme on labelling for environmental purposes. However, there was little support for this from other WTO members and at the time of the collapse of the talks, no progress had been made on this issue.