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 forthcoming 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.
Code Shift: The environmental significance of the 2022 amendments to the Harmonized System
This report explains how recent amendments to the harmonized coding system used to track international merchandise trade will help improve the monitoring of trade in both environmentally sensitive products and environmental goods.
IISD Best Practices Series: Terminating a Bilateral Investment Treaty
This paper examines recent state practice in bilateral investment treaty (BIT) terminations and related drafting, along with presenting options for states interested in addressing their stock of older BITs through termination and renegotiation.
Exploring the Trade Impacts of Fossil Fuel Subsidies
How do fossil fuel subsidies affect competitiveness and trade in various markets, and what is the likely scale of such impacts? This paper sheds light on the relevance of fossil fuel subsidies from an international trade policy perspective, in particular for the WTO.
Investment Facilitation: History and the latest developments in the structured discussions
This negotiating brief was prepared for the January 28, 2020 seminar in Geneva on the Joint Statement Initiative on Investment Facilitation.
E-commerce in the World Trade Organization: History and latest developments in the negotiations under the Joint Statement
This negotiating brief was prepared for the Geneva Seminar held on January 29, 2020, on the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) devoted to electronic commerce, which involves a group of World Trade Organization (WTO) Members.
Global Economic Governance Through the Lens of Inequality and Sustainable Development: Meeting Report
This meeting report was developed following a one-day workshop held in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 13, 2019, on the subjects of global economic governance, income inequality and sustainable development.
A make-or-break moment for sustainable, climate-friendly energy policy
The stated goal of the Energy Charter Treaty is to foster cooperation in the energy sector, but it's creating more problems than it's solving.
The State of Sustainable Markets 2019: Statistics and emerging trends
This joint publication by ITC, IISD and FiBL provides comprehensive data on the sustainability standards being used for the production of various commodities, including banana, cocoa, coffee, cotton, oil palm, soybean, sugarcane, tea and forestry products.
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