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14 March 2023

TESS Contributes to the WTO Dialogue on Plastics Pollution Plenary

TESS was pleased to contribute to the WTO Dialogue on Plastics Pollution (DPP) Plenary meeting on 13 March. At the meeting, TESS presented its vision on possible pathways for members of the DPP to deliver concrete outcomes that can support global efforts to reduce plastic pollution at the Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference. These remarks drew from a presentation TESS was invited to provide at the DPP pre-plenary meeting on 16 February.

With governments gearing up for the Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) planned for February 2024, participants at the Dialogue’s Plenary meeting discussed how to deliver “concrete, pragmatic, and effective outcomes” to reduce plastics pollution at MC13, as called for by trade ministers of the DPP co-sponsors in their 2021 ministerial statement.

At the plenary, the DPP coordinators emphasized the “objective of supporting other significant international initiatives in this area, particularly the ongoing multilateral negotiation process at the UN Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee [INC] where participants are seeking to achieve a legally binding instrument by the end of 2024 to put an end to plastics pollution.” They noted that the DPP can contribute to the treaty process by identifying key trade-related supporting actions.

In his remarks, WTO Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam noted “the important work developed by the Dialogue in the last two years in mapping trade interlinkages and potential solutions to the plastics pollution problem throughout the full life cycle of plastics.”

Marco Lamberti, Director-General of World Wildlife Fund International, closed the opening session by stressing the once in a generation opportunity provided by the INC process to tackle plastic pollution. He highlighted key trade-related dimensions including the need to adhere to common global rules and standards, including for the most problematic plastic products, and the importance of transparency measures across the life cycle of plastics.

During discussions, participants focused on potential MC13 outcomes. Delegations at the meeting put forward numerous suggestions on the key components that MC13 outcomes should include. In its remarks, TESS suggested that DPP members consider a statement that articulates the broad commitments and priorities for cooperation and collective action, reaffirming the spirt and balance reflected in the 2021 ministerial statement. Crucially, our remarks emphasized that the statement must reflect the interests of the range of WTO members, including through responding to the concerns and priorities of least developed countries and small-island developing states, as mentioned in the 2021 ministerial statement. TESS recalled its presentation made at the DPP pre-plenary session, which proposed a ministerial statement by DPP co-sponsors complemented by a compilation of best practices and of individual or collective voluntary trade-related pledges that can support reduction of plastic pollution, while complementing and providing impetus to the plastics treaty process.

Notably, the United States announced at the DPP Plenary on 13 March that it has joined the Dialogue on Plastics Pollution, bringing the number of WTO co-sponsors to 76.

One crosscutting issue that TESS would like to underline as vital is the importance of addressing the concerns of least developed countries and small-island developing states. There is specific mention in the ministerial statement of the importance of responding to their concerns and priorities.

TESS statement to the DPP Plenary meeting

We encourage you to read our statement in full.