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In January 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) became the successor to GATT-the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The new organization was the result of years of negotiations on improving the rules based trading system that oversees international trade. While most trade officials and others that have a direct interest in multilateral trade policy consider this multilateral system to be a major contributor to the enormous growth of world trade and income over the past half century, the WTO is viewed with suspicion and even animosity by many environmentalists.
The criticisms focus on many different aspects of the WTO. Some maintain that trade liberalization under WTO auspices has led to an environmentally harmful exploitation of natural and other resources, and others argue that the WTO hampers governments in pursuing environmentally friendly policies. Further, the WTO is seen as increasingly extending its reach into areas -- particularly through its dispute settlement process -- that go beyond what is normally thought to be trade policy with important implications for the environment. Dealing with the principal issues in the trade and environment debate will preoccupy negotiators well into the next century. This was the case prior to the Meeting of Trade Ministers in Seattle, where a new round of multilateral trade negotiations was to have been launched, and will continue to remain a priority as preparations for another round gain momentum in the run-up to the meeting of Trade Ministers in late 2001 in Qatar.
The purpose of this book is to provide an overview of the key issues for negotiation at the Qatar Ministerial meeting and well beyond. Resolving these issues is a precondition for the launching of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations -- something considered critical by many WTO member governments in order to ensure a stable multilateral trading system that fully represents the interests of developing countries.
The authors of the chapters have been selected as being world authorities in their respective areas. Their contributions to the first edition of Trade Environment and the Millennium have been broadened and deepened in the light of the experience of the failed negotiators in Seattle, and other relevant developments in the WTO over the past two years. Further, as developing countries have a great deal at stake in the outcome of many topics in this complex debate, the authors have specifically addressed their special interests in the forthcoming negotiations.