IISD has been working on international trade for over two decades, analyzing the issue from multiple perspectives: scientific, economic, fiscal, legal, social, and environmental.
At the intergovernmental level, IISD has a long history of working on reforms to the World Trade Organization’s rules and members’ ability to engage in those processes. IISD has also built an extensive body of work on regional and plurilateral trade agreements, as well as the interlinkages between multilateral environmental agreements and the trading system.
At the sectoral level, we have explored options for new industrial policies functioning within a rules-based system; innovative financing for sustainable infrastructure; border-carbon adjustment measures; and whether trade can accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources, improve food security, and eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies and fossil fuel subsidies. Our work also unpacks the relationship between voluntary sustainability standards and trade, as well as the role of trade in contributing to the circular economy.
IISD's work in this area is backed by robust research and policy analysis, along with regular engagement with the varied stakeholder communities involved in and affected by trade and trade policy. A core part of this engagement involves our work to promote transparency and support informed trade conversations.
We feature in-depth commentary and analysis in Investment Treaty News, the Global Subsidies Initiative, the SDG Knowledge Hub, and the Trade and Sustainability Review. We hold webinars on issues at the heart of the trade and sustainability nexus, as part of our partnership with the University of Geneva's Faculty of Law.
Our work on trade issues is made possible through the generous support of our funders. These include:
- UK aid from the UK government, including its Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+)
- Pew Charitable Trusts
- German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
- Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Swedish MFA)
- International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT)
- Government of Finland
Trade and Sustainability Hub
Bringing together communities and stakeholders from around the world to discuss how trade policy can contribute to sustainable development.
Trade and Sustainability Review
A quarterly publication with a focus on the most active policy issues being discussed at the intersection of trade and sustainable development.
Global Subsidies Initiative
A program designed to put the spotlight on subsidies and the corrosive effects they can have on environmental quality, economic development, and governance.
Fisheries Subsidies That Contribute to Overcapacity and Overfishing: A review of the science and key decisions in the WTO negotiations
The objective of this workshop is to complement official discussions of the WTO by providing additional detail on the history of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, in order to inform delegations’ deliberations about how best to proceed.
The WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement: Launch of IISD’s self-assessment tool for implementation
This hybrid launch event for WTO members aims to introduce the new self-assessment toolkit that governments can use to support their efforts to implement the new fisheries subsidies agreement at home.
IISD at the WTO's Trade and Environment Week 2022
IISD is participating in the 2022 edition of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade and Environment Week, taking place from October 17 to 21, 2022, both in-person in Geneva and online.
Role of Trade in the Fight Against Plastic Pollution: Refresher for New Delegates
The session provided a short and focused introduction to trade’s role fighting plastic pollution and the work done by the WTO members, as well as the links to the broader context of the UN negotiations for a global plastics treaty and expectations surrounding that process.
Executive Director, IISD Europe; Senior Director, Economic Law & Policy
Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement
Senior Policy Advisor
Policy Analyst, Trade and Agriculture
Lead, Public Procurement and Sustainable Infrastructure Policy and Coordinator of the NBI Global Resource Centre
Policy Advisor, Fisheries Subsidies
Senior Policy Advisor
Senior Policy Advisor, Tracking Progress
Lead II, Sustainability Standards
Director, Trade and Sustainable Development
Senior Director, Tracking Progress
Good Regulatory Practice Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements
This paper examines how good regulatory practice provisions are evolving in select key regional trade agreements and provides some policy insights of value for developing countries.
Policy Action Framework: Improving product sustainability information in e-commerce
How can policy-makers take action to improve product sustainability information for consumers using e-commerce platforms?
AfCFTA’s Ali: Watch for More African Trade Thanks to Guided Trade Initiative
Jennifer Freedman details what negotiating steps are left to finalize the long-delayed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Sustainability and the New Zealand-EU Free Trade Agreement: A step up in accountability
John Ballingall describes the ambitious and progressive environmental conditions of the New Zealand-EU free trade agreement and what these mean for both parties going forward.
We Need More Hybrid Trade and Environment Agreements
Tancrède Voituriez argues that hybrid trade and environmental agreements are more promising routes to address environmental targets and the governance of trade and the environment.
The Renaissance of Industrial Policy and Its Articulation With Data Governance
Marilia Maciel discusses the transformation of industrial policy as a result of the data economy and what its implications entail for developing countries.
Trade Solutions Are Needed to Tackle Climate Change Threat, WTO Says
The World Trade Report 2022: Climate Change and International Trade emphasizes the key role trade must play in climate change adaptation strategies and the transition to a low-carbon economy
Investment Law & Policy
How can we ensure developing economies attract international investment that promotes sustainable development?
Fossil fuel subsidies make little sense in a world shifting to low-carbon sources of energy to tackle climate change.
Standards and Value Chains
Voluntary sustainability standards contribute to biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and gender equality.
Governance and Multilateral Agreements
The frameworks that govern economies and our ecosystems touch every aspect of our lives—and have implications for sustainable, inclusive development.
Food and Agriculture
Agriculture is on the front lines of nearly all urgent global challenges, from hunger to climate change to rising inequality.
In a circular economy, products are designed, produced, and used to reduce waste and regenerate natural systems.