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Key Message

Trade liberalization is a major engine of economic growth, so it has great potential as a force for sustainable development. Unfortunately, the link is not automatic. Where trade policy is in conflict with environment and development policy, it can delay or even undermine the achievement of sustainable development. IISD's work on trade focuses on how we can help ensure positive outcomes.


Flavia Thomé talks about the Trade Knowledge Network
(Flash Video - 1:35 min)


Mark Halle· Mark Halle
Vice-President, International
Aaron Cosbey· Aaron Cosbey
Senior Associate
Christopher Beaton· Christopher Beaton
Research and Communications Officer
Elka Parveva-Kern· Elka Parveva-Kern
Contract and Project Administrator
Damon Vis-Dunbar· Damon Vis-Dunbar
Project Manager
Fariba Di Benedetto-Achtari· Fariba Di Benedetto-Achtari
Office Administrator
Flavia Thomé· Flavia Thomé
Project Manager
Howard Mann· Howard Mann
Associate & Senior International Law Advisor
Jason Potts· Jason Potts
Associate and Program Manager, SMART
Lucy Kitson· Lucy Kitson
Research Officer - Economist
Oshani Perera· Oshani Perera
Program Leader
Peter Wooders· Peter Wooders
Senior Economist
Robert Wolfe· Robert Wolfe
Ron Steenblik· Ron Steenblik
emeritus Director of Research
Sabrina Shaw· Sabrina Shaw
Tara Laan· Tara Laan
Deborah Roosen· Deborah Roosen
Programme Manager and EU Liaison
Alec Crawford· Alec Crawford
Ivetta Gerasimchuk· Ivetta Gerasimchuk
Research Officer
Simon Zadek· Simon Zadek
Senior Fellow and Associate
Vivek Voora· Vivek Voora
Lasse Toft  Christensen· Lasse Toft Christensen
Development Officer

International Trade

Making international trade work for sustainable development

What's New in International Trade?

  • The Green Goods Agreement: Neither green nor good?
    This commentary asks whether the newly announced negotiations on a green goods agreement will actually result in environmental improvement and argues that the parties should be worried about the institutional innovations required by the agreement.

  • Taking Advantage of ASEAN's Free Trade Agreements: A guide for small and medium-sized enterprises
    In the past decade, the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have taken significant steps to reduce the barriers to trade among the 10 nations among their membership. Over the same period, ASEAN officials have signed five major free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Such steps have helped to lower tariffs, streamline regulations, and generally simplify export and import processes. As such, these economic integration initiatives present significant opportunities for ASEAN-based businesses.

    By using the opportunities that these FTAs provide, firms can find new markets for their products and potentially increase their output. Economic growth is good for businesses, but it is also good for the economies of the region. As such, by making full use of ASEAN's economic integration initiatives, SMEs can expand their businesses, create new jobs, offer their customers more goods and services, and generally help to promote economic growth and sustainable development across the region.

  • GSI Workshop: Bringing Energy Subsidies to the World Trade Organisation
    On September 30, 2013, IISD's Global Subsidies Initiative organized a workshop on "Bringing Energy Subsidies to the WTO." The aim of the workshop was to discuss the opportunities and challenges in bringing the issue of energy subsidies onto the WTO Agenda. The presentations and discussion focused on the lessons that can be learned from the fishery subsidies negotiations, problems and solutions related to data on energy subsidies, the role of non-governmental and international organisations in bringing issues to the WTO negotiating table, and, finally, what other WTO mechanisms—other than dispute settlement and negotiations—could help to address energy subsidies.

  • Announcement: UNFSS Launching Event
    The official public launch of the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) will be held in Geneva on March 21 and 22, 2013. The UNFSS is coordinated by five UN bodies: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

  • Food Price Inflation and Food Security: A Morocco case study
    This report comes in the context of rising food prices and UN predictions of a looming global food crisis in 2013. Written at the request of Pulse Canada, it provides insight into food price inflation and food security in low-income countries, and the implications for international agricultural trade. This report provides important detailed analysis of the relationship between pulses and Morocco's efforts to open up its economy in the context of the current global economic situation.

  • Chinese Outward Investment: An emerging policy framework
    This book is an English-language compilation covering over 80 primary texts relevant to Chinese outward investment issued from January 2000 to January 2012. By combining these primary materials into one comprehensive and accessible English-language source, IISD and Institute for International Economic Research are filling a gap in the available literature. The compilation makes these primary sources easy to access and understand, which will facilitate a broader and deeper understanding of Chinese outward investment and the policies supporting it, and, importantly, will facilitate more and improved discourse on and analysis of the relationship between Chinese outward investment and sustainable development.

International trade has enormous potential to foster or frustrate sustainable development. By allowing for specialization, trade can increase incomes and contribute to increased well-being. Openness to investment and trade can bring new environmentally-friendly technologies and processes.

But trade can also allow powerful global demand to deplete countries' natural resources and create increased pollution. And the benefits of trade are not always well distributed among and within nations.

In seeking positive outcomes, IISD focuses on two major themes, with a particular concern for developing countries: