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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.

IISD-GSI presented its latest work on transparency and accountability at the WTO and made a proposal for the role of non-governmental organisations in improving the monitoring and surveillance mechanisms of the WTO. IISD-GSI is currently exploring the possibilities of third-party notification to the WTO through the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The draft paper also suggests the use of a new template for the notification of fossil fuel and renewable energy subsidies that would facilitate discussion on energy subsidies within the TPRM.

The final session of the workshop focused on the types of information that would be needed for the Trade Policy Reviews and WTO Members to discuss energy subsidies. It was emphasised by many participants that drawing the link between energy subsidies and their effect on trade and trading partners was crucial in order for the issue to fit the WTO’s mandate.

In light of the discussions at the workshop, IISD will revise the draft paper "Shining a light on energy subsidies at the WTO. How NGOs can contribute to WTO notification and surveillance" and publish it shortly.