Trade and environment

The linkages between trade and environment are multiple, complex, and the subject of many multilateral, plurilateral, regional and bilateral discussions and negotiations. Trade and environment issues encompass, among other things, trade and climate change.

One of Canada’s important policy objectives in this area is to ensure that trade and environmental protection and preservation are mutually supportive. Global Affairs Canada, in collaboration with Environment Canada, pursues this objective by incorporating environmental considerations and obligations in its free trade agreements. It is also actively engaged in the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on trade and environment and in fora such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC).

The WTO provides a framework and rules to assist Canadian trade and environment policy efforts. In general, the WTO acknowledges that, under certain conditions, trade limitations may be necessary to achieve some environmental policy goals, provided that they are not disguised restrictions to trade or a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination.

Agreements linked to trade and environment

Plurilateral Environmental Goods Agreement

This environmental goods tariff initiative is a potential agreement that is planned to be negotiated between a number of World Trade Organization Members in order to advance the liberalization of trade in environmental goods.

Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

The Government of Canada is pursuing an ambitious bilateral and regional trade and investment agenda. In bilateral and regional trade and investment negotiations, Canada seeks to commit its trading partners to maintaining high levels of environmental protection as we engage in liberalized trade and investment. Obligations are set out to foster good environmental governance, mandate the effective enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, and ensure that countries do not compromise their environmental laws to attract trade or investment.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

In the context of Doha negotiations, Canada continues to be a strong supporter of the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade in environmental goods, as well as the  liberalization of environmental services, in a manner consistent with our objectives in the agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA), and services negotiations.

Canada also seeks enhanced coherence in international environmental and trade rules within the Doha mandate, as well as improved information exchange and transparency between the relevant WTO committees and multilateral environmental agreement secretariats.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Within the APEC forum, the Government of Canada also actively promotes trade and investment in goods and services needed to protect our environment and to develop and disseminate relevant environmental technologies.

In 2012, APEC Leaders agreed on a list of 54 environmental goods to which all APEC Economies, taking into account their economic circumstances, committed to reduce their applied tariffs to 5% or less by 2015. The list is comprised of a number of products including, for instance, goods for technologies used for renewable and clean energy and pollution control, hazardous waste treatment, and environmental monitoring and assessment.

Contact us

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Government Procurement, Trade and Environment Division (TPZ)
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-996-0612