At the World Trade Organization (WTO), governments are gearing up for the Thirteenth Ministerial Conference (MC13), scheduled for February 2024. On 13 March, participants at the WTO Dialogue on Plastics Pollution plenary meeting began discussions on the vision for MC13 outcomes, including how a ministerial statement on trade-related cooperation could contribute to ongoing process at the United Nations to conclude a new international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. To contribute to discussion on pathways to MC13, TESS shared views
on possible approaches to producing “concrete, pragmatic, and effective outcomes,” drawing on its presentation
on this topic at the February pre-plenary of the DPP.
On 16–17 March, participants in the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) at the WTO advanced
work in working groups covering trade-related climate measures, subsidies, environmental goods and services, and the circular economy. TESSD co-sponsors are also considering what kinds of outcomes they can contribute to MC13 on trade and sustainability. At meetings on 14–15 March, the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) welcomed its new Committee Chair, Ambassador José Valencia of Ecuador, who has begun engaging in consultations on ways to reinvigorate the committee.
Also in March, the WTO announced that the Public Forum 2023, to be held from 12–15 September, will focus on how trade can contribute to a greener, more sustainable future. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more from the WTO Secretariat on the agenda for the fourth edition of WTO Trade and Environment Week, this year to be held alongside the meetings of the CTE during the week of June 12.
On 11 April and 2 May, the United States and Canada, both large fishing nations, became the fourth
WTO members to deposit their instruments of acceptance for the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. They have since been joined by a seventh WTO member, Iceland. For the agreement to become operational, two-thirds of members have to deposit their instruments of acceptance with the WTO. Meanwhile, consistent with their agreement in June 2022, members are continuing negotiations on outstanding issues with a view to making recommendations by MC13. Unless WTO members decide otherwise, the current agreement on fisheries subsidies will lapse if more comprehensive disciplines are not adopted within four years of entry into force.