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Trade matters. It has the potential to advance sustainable, low-carbon development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement climate commitments present fundamental challenges to trade policy; so too do growing protectionism and the fraying of multilateralism. 

IISD has been working on international trade for over two decades. Our work mirrors the scientific, economic, fiscal, legal and environmental aspects of trade. IISD focuses on reforms to the World Trade Organization and other trade agreements (including the North American Free Trade Agreement); options for new industrial policies functioning within a rules-based system; and whether trade can accelerate renewable energy and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. IISD examines trade-related issues ranging from global food security and other commitments set out in the SDGs, to innovative financing for sustainable infrastructure, carbon-border adjustment measures and the role of big data. 

IISD works with developing countries and others on international investment treaties. It also addresses trade issues through its flagship Investment Treaty News, Global Subsidies Initiative and the SDG Knowledge Hub.   

  • Blog
    Making the International Trade System Work for Climate Change:  Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies through the WTO and International Trade Agreements

    Making the International Trade System Work for Climate Change: Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies through the WTO and International Trade Agreements

    Can the international trade system be a catalyst for reforming fossil fuel subsidies (FFSs) to help relieve the burden on the public purse, reduce local and global air pollution, improve energy security and tackle climate change? 

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  • Blog
    How Can a Six-Digit Trade Code Help the Environment?

    How Can a Six-Digit Trade Code Help the Environment?

    Every single thing that gets shipped from one country to another has a special trade code assigned to it. How can this help the environment?

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  • Report
    Joint Statement on Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises: History and latest developments in the Informal Working Group

    Joint Statement on Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises: History and latest developments in the Informal Working Group

    This brief outlines the history and developments of MSME-related discussions in the World Trade Organization (WTO) context, looking specifically at MSME-related issues at the WTO as well as in other forums and contexts.

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  • Report
    Code Shift: The environmental significance of the 2022 amendments to the Harmonized System

    Code Shift: The environmental significance of the 2022 amendments to the Harmonized System

    This report explains how recent amendments to the harmonized coding system used to track international merchandise trade will help improve the monitoring of trade in both environmentally sensitive products and environmental goods.

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  • Blog
    Could the COVID-19 Pandemic Give the 2020 Environmental Agenda a Much-Needed Boost?

    Could the COVID-19 Pandemic Give the 2020 Environmental Agenda a Much-Needed Boost?

    COVID-19 has changed everything. But if we take the right steps and trust science, there's potential for a lot of good to happen.

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  • Best Practices
    IISD Best Practices Series: Terminating a Bilateral Investment Treaty

    IISD Best Practices Series: Terminating a Bilateral Investment Treaty

    This paper examines recent state practice in bilateral investment treaty (BIT) terminations and related drafting, along with presenting options for states interested in addressing their stock of older BITs through termination and renegotiation.

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  • Report
    Exploring the Trade Impacts of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

    Exploring the Trade Impacts of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

    How do fossil fuel subsidies affect competitiveness and trade in various markets, and what is the likely scale of such impacts? This paper sheds light on the relevance of fossil fuel subsidies from an international trade policy perspective, in particular for the WTO.

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  • Report
    E-commerce in the World Trade Organization: History and latest developments in the negotiations under the Joint Statement

    E-commerce in the World Trade Organization: History and latest developments in the negotiations under the Joint Statement

    This negotiating brief was prepared for the Geneva Seminar held on January 29, 2020, on the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) devoted to electronic commerce, which involves a group of World Trade Organization (WTO) Members.

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  • Report
    Investment Facilitation: History and the latest developments in the structured discussions

    Investment Facilitation: History and the latest developments in the structured discussions

    This negotiating brief was prepared for the January 28, 2020 seminar in Geneva on the Joint Statement Initiative on Investment Facilitation.

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  • Report
    Global Economic Governance Through the Lens of Inequality and Sustainable Development: Meeting Report

    Global Economic Governance Through the Lens of Inequality and Sustainable Development: Meeting Report

    This meeting report was developed following a one-day workshop held in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 13, 2019, on the subjects of global economic governance, income inequality and sustainable development.

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