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
How Can Trade Maximize Gains From Clean Energy Investment in Developing Countries?
As governments increasingly turn to trade policy to support the renewable energy transition, they also need to encourage the production of key components at home.
Connecting the Dots for Sustainable Supply Chains
To achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a global community, we need more coordinated and coherent supply chains. Are voluntary sustainability standards the answer?
Will Carbon Taxes Level The International Playing Field?
A year ago, the idea of a carbon border tax was more of a hypothetical than an actual plan. But a year ago, the EU had not yet tightened its already tight emission reduction targets.
Explainer: The E.U. and U.S. proposed ‘border carbon tax’ policies
In the midst of the climate emergency last month, the European Union and the United States proposed carbon taxes with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent businesses from moving to countries with fewer regulation laws.
Rising Protectionism Signals Valuable Lessons Have Been Forgotten
Per Altenberg from the Swedish National Board of Trade looks back after five years of monitoring protectionism and finds that the trend toward establishing new traditional tariff measures and non-tariff barriers has continued.
Latin American Trade Coalitions Look Ahead to Post-COVID Future
IISD's Sofia Baliño looks at the ways in which Latin American economic groupings are positioning themselves for a post-COVID recovery.
Is India Ready for an Electric Vehicle Revolution?
IISD's Tom Moerenhout looks at what India needs to do to keep up with countries already embracing the trend toward EVs.
Product Policy in Support of the Global Transition to a Circular Economy: Trade interaction
Malena Sell from Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, discusses the need for cooperation on relevant standard setting to provide a pragmatic way to weave circularity into global value chains and facilitate circular trade.
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.