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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
    WTO Debate on Future of “Differentiation” Highlights Challenges in Upcoming Negotiating Agenda

    WTO Debate on Future of “Differentiation” Highlights Challenges in Upcoming Negotiating Agenda

    In March 2019, Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump announced Brazil will stop asking for certain types of treatment accorded to developing countries at the World Trade Organization.

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  • Report
    Canada's International Trade Obligations: Barrier or opportunity for sustainable public procurement?

    Canada's International Trade Obligations: Barrier or opportunity for sustainable public procurement?

    This paper explores the extent to which international trade agreements could pose a barrier to sustainable procurement or, conversely, enable sustainability to take a more prominent role in the procurement process.

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  • Policy Brief
    Weighing up the Environmental Cooperation Agreement under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

    Weighing up the Environmental Cooperation Agreement under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

    Trade agreements can have important environmental effects. We take a look at what’s old, what’s new and what’s noteworthy in the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement when it comes to the environment.

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  • Blog
    As Members Debate WTO Reform, What Lies Ahead for 2019?

    As Members Debate WTO Reform, What Lies Ahead for 2019?

    The international trade community is returning to action in what promises to be a jam-packed year that could set the stage for an overhaul of the World Trade Organization.

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  • Blog
    Trade Can be a Driver of Climate Action

    Trade Can be a Driver of Climate Action

    CETA, the landmark trade agreement between the EU and Canada, holds established best practices for trade-accelerated climate action, Bernice Lee and Scott Vaughan argue as the business, civil society and policy communities gather in Brussels to consider how to merge trade and climate action.

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  • Blog
    Should Farmers Who Follow Sustainable Practices Be Rewarded?

    Should Farmers Who Follow Sustainable Practices Be Rewarded?

    Meeting sustainability standards can have valuable benefits for smallholder farmers, but what happens when the product fails to sell?

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  • Blog
    What Do Bears and Smartphones Have in Common?

    What Do Bears and Smartphones Have in Common?

    The challenge that electronics hibernation poses to the circular economy.

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  • Blog
    Trade Wars Turning Into Investment Wars: Will sustainable development suffer?

    Trade Wars Turning Into Investment Wars: Will sustainable development suffer?

    While the U.S.–China trade war rages on and captures headlines, a U.S.–China investment war is emerging. Will sustainable development be the ultimate loser?

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  • Blog
    WTO Survival Uncertain as Ministers Meet in Canada

    WTO Survival Uncertain as Ministers Meet in Canada

    The WTO faces its most critical test—a reaction to the October 2018 Joint Communiqué as international trade evolves faster than the WTO can move.

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