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.
Media Briefing on Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
This media briefing aims to provide an accurate, impartial, and evidence-based analysis of the key choices governments make in designing border carbon adjustment policies and the implications these choices have for trading partners.
Climate Security and Trade in Times of Multiple Crises
IISD is co-organizing a session with Mistra as part of the Think2030 Dialogue Sweden 2023, where experts will explore regulatory frameworks that have a balance between protecting the environment, stimulating a sustainable transition of industries, and safeguarding global relationships and supply chains.
Fighting Plastic Pollution: Taking the First Step, Taking the Next Step
This event aims to look closer at the existing trade-related measures to reduce plastic pollution, targeted plastics, plastic products and materials, as well as to ask questions on possible immediate next steps that the WTO members could take.
Fisheries Subsidies That Contribute to Overcapacity and Overfishing: A review of key concepts and data
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.
Interim Co-President and Co-CEO | Vice-President, Global Strategies and Managing Director, Europe
Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement
Senior Policy Advisor
Policy Advisor I
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
Trade-Related Policy Measures to Reduce Plastic Pollution: Building on the state of play
This report looks at the trade-related plastic pollution-reduction measures notified by World Trade Organization (WTO) members in order to provide inspiration for further actions and international cooperation options.
Auch USA diskutieren CO2-Grenzausgleich (in German)
Die internationalen Debatten über den CO₂-Grenzausgleich CBAM der EU werden lauter. Auch in den USA planen Demokraten und Republikaner eine ähnliche Maßnahme, um ihre Industrie vor dreckigen Importen zu schützen. Aber es gibt noch politische Hürden.
Fostering Cooperation on Sustainable Agriculture and Trade at the WTO
Christophe Bellmann discusses new windows of opportunity at the intersection of agriculture and trade to address sustainability challenges and advance cooperation at the World Trade Organization.
Britain Becomes First European Member of Trans-Pacific Trade Bloc
The United Kingdom becomes the first new member to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) since it entered into force in 2018.
WTO Members Should Avoid Export Restrictions on Fertilizers to Deliver on Food Security
Facundo Calvo overviews the recent economic trends of agricultural fertilizers and suggests strategies to facilitate fertilizer trade in order for the World Trade Organization to deliver on food security.
International Trade and Artificial Intelligence: Is trade policy ready for Chat GPT?
Pascal Krummenacher discusses the challenges that artificial intelligence poses to trade policy and looks to the World Trade Organization in its ability to respond.
WTO’s Ossa: Trade is both a cause of and solution to climate change
Jennifer Freedman interviews Ralph Ossa, the WTO’s new chief economist, to discuss the effects of trade on climate change, and how trade can provide solutions to environmental issues.
PPMs Are Back: The rise of new sustainability-oriented trade policies based on process and production methods
Andreas Oeschger and Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi review the debate behind process and production methods (PPMs) and contextualize them based on examples of recently introduced PPM-based trade measures.
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.