The USC Gould School of Law’s Center for Transnational Law and Business (CTLB) was invited to present at the World Trade Organization Public Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. The panel marks the second time in three years that members of CTLB shared their expertise at the WTO.
After a break owing to the pandemic, the WTO, which governs multi-lateral trade between nations, resumed its annual forum in late September under the theme “Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Recovery: Ambition to Action.” The CTLB presented a panel discussion titled “Ensuring Inclusive Trade and Environmental Measures,” focused on developing nations’ concerns about potentially discriminatory environment-related trade measures. Executive Director Brian Peck moderated the panel, which also featured Fangfei Dong, CTLB’s associate director for policy, research and programs; Julia Miranda Londoño, renowned environmentalist and congresswoman, Republic of Colombia and Karine Siegwart, senior policy advisor, International Policy Centre, International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“Several countries have implemented various trade measures to mitigate climate change and environmental degradation, such as a carbon border tax that imposes higher tariffs on goods like steel and cement that are produced with higher greenhouse gas emissions,” says Peck. “But these are often discriminatory for developing countries that depend on heavy manufacturing industries that emit higher levels of greenhouse gases for economic growth. Our panel looked at trade measures and mechanisms that are inclusive in hopes of engaging developing countries in creating and implementing these trade measures.”
Peck says he was pleased to see Maria Pagan, deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. ambassador to the WTO, in the audience for the CTLB panel. “She had other high-level presentations she could have gone to,” he says. “There were 140 presentations including ours, and during ours, there was another session with ambassadors from different countries speaking on aspects of climate change.”
He was also happy with the level of engagement of audience members, who asked about the trade-offs developing countries have to make between focusing on economic development to expand the middle class among their impoverished populations vs. participating in trade measures to help the environment.
“It was a lively and vibrant discussion,” Peck says. “It’s an honor for our center to be invited by the WTO to give a presentation and contribute to the international dialogue on ensuring more inclusive trade measures to protect the environment.”