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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
    Could a U.S.–China Trade War Lead to a New Wave of Land Grabs?

    Could a U.S.–China Trade War Lead to a New Wave of Land Grabs?

    A trade war could force China to search for new frontiers to secure its soybean demand and protect its supply chains, leading to another wave of so-called “land grabs.” 

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  • Blog
    The Federal Court of Canada and the End of Investor-state Dispute Settlement in NAFTA?

    The Federal Court of Canada and the End of Investor-state Dispute Settlement in NAFTA?

    A recent Federal Court of Canada decision should spell the end of renegotiations on the investment chapter of NAFTA, and ignite a renegotiation of the investment chapters of other trade agreements.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 9, Issue 1, April 2018

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 9, Issue 1, April 2018

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

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  • Commentary
    A wish list for an environmentally friendly NAFTA

    A wish list for an environmentally friendly NAFTA

    The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been progressing along a very rocky path, with the U.S., Canada and Mexico all threatening at one point or another to exit the pact. But slow progress is being made toward a new agreement.

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  • Commentary
    U.S. Economy and Workers Have Most to Lose from Tariff Hikes

    U.S. Economy and Workers Have Most to Lose from Tariff Hikes

    President Trump recently announced tariff hikes on all steel imports and an increase for imported aluminum. IISD economic modelling analysis confirms and quantifies recent predictions that import restrictions are likely to harm the U.S. economy itself. 

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2017

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

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  • Commentary
    Environmental and Public Interest Considerations in NAFTA Renegotiation

    Environmental and Public Interest Considerations in NAFTA Renegotiation

    This commentary supports and contributes to propositions on how NAFTA parties should seek to modernize the agreement for the benefit of the North American public and ecosystems.

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  • Paper
    Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

    Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

    Based on a review of 150 instruments, ranging from international investment agreements to codes of multinational enterprises, this paper identifies ten core characteristics of sustainable FDI and twenty emerging sustainable FDI characteristics widely accepted across ten stakeholder groups

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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.

    Read More