Working paper

Greening the WTO's Disputes Settlement Understanding: Opportunities and Risks (WP 01/28)

Authors: Jim Rose


It is reasonable to ask whether the WTO's rules may hamper the ability of national and sub-national governments to be genuine pacesetters in environmental law making.

Environmentalists consider that the WTO's disputes panels may encourage governments to converge to the relevant international standard for a particular risk regulation because such uniformity is likely to reduce the incidence of trade disputes.

Proposals that go beyond environmental advocacy and greater transparency in the WTO's disputes settlement process-changes such as a weakening of the sound science requirement and incorporating stronger forms of the precautionary principle into WTO agreements on biosecurity laws-reduce due process safeguards against disguised regulatory protectionism in New Zealand's agricultural export markets.