News - News

08 February 2024

TESS Issues Statement at WTO Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions Plenary Meeting

TESS was pleased to contribute to the WTO Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) Plenary meeting on 25 January 2024. At the meeting, we underlined the opportunity MC13 provides to give renewed impetus to the work of the 76 Members of TESSD and emphasized the importance of guiding discussions towards concrete actions by MC14.

At the final TESSD meeting to be held before the Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13), co-sponsors of the initiative considered the package of outcomes for MC13 including a statement by the co-conveners on the progress achieved since MC12, an updated work plan for 2024, outcome documents of the four informal working groups, and the Summary Report of TESSD for 2023.

In our comments, we noted that discussions in TESSD have contributed to a much better shared understanding of the various trade and sustainability challenges and opportunities at hand as well as to raising the profile of urgent sustainability challenges in the WTO and to reviving discussions in the broader multilateral discussion.

We welcomed the draft statement by the TESSD co-convenors to be delivered at MC13 and, in particular, supported the objective of delivering concrete results by MC14. To achieve this, however, we emphasized that deliberations in TESSD will need to move towards specific discussions around possible options for concrete outcomes and collective action.

Looking ahead, we also suggested that TESSD co-sponsors may wish to consider new approaches focused more explicitly on addressing specific environmental challenges, the different types of trade-related actions and measures that are relevant, and how to foster concrete cooperation around them.

Additionally, to give renewed impetus to the work of TESSD, we suggested that co-sponsors consider a stocktaking exercise, possibly at the end of 2024. This would coincide with the end of the first three years of work of the TESSD initiative and could provide an opportunity for co-sponsors to focus on specific actions or recommendations and support preparations for concrete outcomes for MC14 along with a robust workplan for the next phase of work.

In our statement, TESS also highlighted the richness of presentations and analysis on a range of trade and sustainability topics shared by stakeholders and the WTO Secretariat at TESSD over the past two years, encouraging the co-convenors to consider ways that in addition to posting on the WTO website these could be more widely disseminated to inform discussions beyond those involved directly in TESSD meetings.

You can read a WTO news item on the TESSD Plenary meeting and access documents related to the initiative and its working groups here.

We encourage you to read our statement in full.

TESS at the World Trade Organization

This work is part of our initiative supporting inclusive cooperation on trade, environment, and sustainable development at the WTO.