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 Trade and Sustainability Review. We hold regular 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+);
- the Pew Charitable Trusts;
- the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ);
- the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida);
- the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Swedish MFA);
- the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT);
- the Government of Finland.
Trade and Sustainability Hub
This three day virtual conference will provide a platform for trade and sustainable development policy discussion.
IISD at the WTO Public Forum
IISD continued its tradition of participating in the WTO's largest outreach event, the Public Forum, in September 2021.
Past trade events
View a list of IISD's past events and webinars with a focus on trade and sustainable development.
Executive Director, IISD Europe; Senior Director, Economic Law & Policy
Senior Director, Energy
Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement
Senior Policy Advisor
Policy Advisor, Fisheries Subsidies
Writer, Earth Negotiations Bulletin
Lead, Sustainability Standards
Soledad Leal Campos
Lead, Sustainable Trade
Director, Agriculture, Trade & Investment
Lead, Sustainable Trade and Fisheries Subsidies
Senior Director, Tracking Progress
Senior Law Advisor
Global Chemicals Lobby Proposes WTO Reforms to Tackle Trade Barriers
A group representing global chemicals trade has released a paper outlining its recommendations to modernize the WTO and tackle trade barriers.
EU Court Annuls EU Fisheries Deal With Morocco, Backing Polisario
An EU court has struck down the bloc’s trade and fisheries deals with Morocco, saying that the consent of the people of Western Sahara is required.
Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 12, Issue 3, October 2021
Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD's flagship journal on international investment law and policy.
Leveraging Trade to Support Climate Adaptation in Developing Countries
This paper aims to support trade negotiators in leveraging trade for climate change adaptation and to explore the critical role National Adaptation Plan (NAP) processes can play in this regard.
Principles and Best Practice in Border Carbon Adjustment
Border carbon adjustment (BCA) is coming; it is no longer just a controversial hypothetical. What will it mean for the multilateral trading system?
Net-Zero Should Not Be a Net Loss for Low-Income Economies
As countries make the transition towards net-zero economies, what do these policies mean for international trade?
Can Trade in Electric Vehicle Raw Materials Create Development Opportunities?
As demand grows for electric vehicles, there are valuable lessons to learn from Chile and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Investment Law & Policy
How can we ensure developing countries attract the sort of 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.