The role of trade policy in a sustainable future

The role of trade policy in a sustainable future

Amar Breckenridge, Senior Associate, was invited to speak as a panellist at a Wilton Park Dialogue on the future of the international trade system.

The discussion focused heavily on the role of trade policy in promoting sustainability objectives. The dialogue was organised in partnership with the UK Department for International Trade, and was opened by the Hon. Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy.

Amar spoke specifically on the contribution of liberalisation of services, that perform environmental functions, in promoting good outcomes in key areas such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity. A very wide range of services perform such functions, which presents both a case for broad-based liberalisation, but also highlights some of the challenges of liberalisation given political economy sensitivities around services trade.

One way of dealing with these sensitivities is to foster a collaborative agenda between countries, particularly developing ones, on good regulatory practice. This is a reflection of the fact that regulation both drives demand for environmental services and goods, by correcting market failures, and is also the main source of barriers to international trade.

Such an agenda would need to extend beyond the trade negotiating sphere, and follow processes that differ from the largely adversarial context of trade negotiations. Given how complex cost-benefit analysis of regulation is, helping countries develop their analytical capability in support of good regulation is an important stepping stone to a more transparent and liberal regime for trade, including trade in environmental services and goods.  

Frontier regularly advises clients on trade policy and regulatory matters.

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