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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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  • Report
    Assessing the Impacts of Investment Treaties: Overview of the evidence

    Assessing the Impacts of Investment Treaties: Overview of the evidence

    Investment treaties grant powerful legal rights to foreign investors. Foreign investors’ ability to frame plausible multimillion-dollar claims against a wide range of host government actions—and the fact that these claims are adjudicated through a system of private arbitration—has made investment treaties controversial. This scoping study seeks to provide an overview and assessment of existing evidence of investment treaties’ impacts.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2017

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship quarterly journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Commentary
    Renegotiating NAFTA: Pros and cons for Canada and Mexico

    Renegotiating NAFTA: Pros and cons for Canada and Mexico

    As NAFTA renegotiations continue, it is useful to examine what might happen if NAFTA tariff preferences disappear. This paper uses an economic trade model to simulate the impacts of a 20 per cent tariff increase in North American industries such as energy, steel, cement and automobiles.  

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  • Commentary
    NAFTA Renegotiations Must Protect 20 Years of Progress on Labour and Environmental Protections in Trade Agreements and Address New Risks

    NAFTA Renegotiations Must Protect 20 Years of Progress on Labour and Environmental Protections in Trade Agreements and Address New Risks

    Sandra Polaski, an expert on labour and social policy issues at national and global levels gives us her take on the NAFTA negotiations in relation to labour, environment and trade agreements.

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  • Commentary
    Response to the United States Trade Representative’s Stated Objectives on NAFTA Negotiations: An environmental perspective

    Response to the United States Trade Representative’s Stated Objectives on NAFTA Negotiations: An environmental perspective

    On July 17, 2017, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published its Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA renegotiation. Taking a sustainable development perspective, this response examines the USTR objectives and how they directly or indirectly relate to sustainable growth through international trade and investment.

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  • Blog
    Behind the Scenes of the G20: a Substantive Process Leads to a Significant Statement

    Behind the Scenes of the G20: a Substantive Process Leads to a Significant Statement

    After months of working behind the scenes to help develop recommendations for G20 leaders, I can tell you that it is a substantive process that led to a significant statement.

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  • Blog
    Can Trade Help Deliver the Paris Agreement? Lessons learned from the G20

    Can Trade Help Deliver the Paris Agreement? Lessons learned from the G20

    This year’s G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, saw long and heated discussion on the urgency of delivering the Paris Agreement. 

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  • Report
    Standards and Biodiversity

    Standards and Biodiversity

    The Standards and Biodiversity Report analyzes the criteria and market coverage of 15 major agricultural voluntary sustainability standards against key biodiversity parameters.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2017

    Investment Treaty News is IISD’s flagship quarterly journal on international investment law and policy.

    Read More