Introduction

At first glance, Pascal Lamy's statement is a highly optimistic expression of the classical win-win hypothesis, reflecting belief in co-existence, mutual support and synergism between trade liberalization and environmental protection. However, the second phrase introduces an important qualification, wherein Lamy concedes that the untouched state of nature between both fields is not that free of conflicts [1]. Taken at face value, the quote implies that there is no inherent harmony between free trade and the environment; rather, such harmony needs to be constructed (i.e., brought about by active policy coordination). As a major source of this coordination Lamy names "international institutions" such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). This view of a constructed coherence also implies an important distinction which is often ignored: the WTO's impact on the environment and free trade's impact on the environment are not necessarily the same. In fact, through its regulatory efforts, the WTO might significantly alter the consequences of free trade for the global ecology.

Thus, in three aspects, the above quotation by the WTO Director-General has marked out the course of this chapter. I will start out with an overview of common assumptions on the impact of free trade on the environment— assumptions which, very much like the first part of Lamy's statement, are all-encompassing and deterministic. From there, I will narrow the scope of examination to specific and immediate hardware-to-hardware impacts: akin to the second part of the above statement, the emphasis shall be put on the WTO's efforts to actively ensure coherence between international trade law and environmental regulations. Finally, I will take into account the role of countries in these coordinative efforts, which is a third factor named by Lamy. As will be shown, the ongoing deadlock among WTO members on ecological questions has so far prevented a more comprehensive approach, thereby leaving the momentum to the organization's dispute settlement system.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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