The intent of the Forum, which will be scheduled to meet twice a year, is to give a panel of experts the opportunity to moderate and suggest solutions, UNCTAD trade officials told the Trade and Development Board (TDB) yesterday afternoon.
Attempts to establish and expand the “green economy” recently have included a range of government measures around the world that mandate or require companies to procure inputs from domestic rather than imported sources, for example, said Mr. Lucas Assuncao, head of UNCTAD’s Trade, Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Branch. Rules also have been set by some countries and regional markets on fees, permits, or markets for carbon emissions – regulations that can increase the costs of domestic firms subject to them.
Domestic-input requirements indicate by law that firms must produce goods or obtain inputs for their goods from sources that have produced them according to domestic standards for protecting the environment. The domestic requirements often are linked to other policies, such as subsidies or “feed-in” tariffs designed to give domestic green businesses a head start. Imported inputs may not be produced according to such environmentally friendly standards. Driving the trend are such factors as care for the environment and the wish to create “green” jobs.
“Everybody – or almost everybody – is using measures like this,” Mr. Assuncao told the TDB.
Mr. Guillermo Valles, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities, said the intent of the Forum is to have “an institutional space. . . not to legislated, but to reduce frictions and perhaps to reduce trade disputes.”
It is hoped that the Forum “can ascertain the economic and environmental effectiveness of these measures;” discover to what extent they encourage local value addition and competitiveness; investigate links to other green policies and measures; investigate the impacts of these rules and regulations on trade; and discuss various approaches to reconciling the measures with trade rules, Mr. Assuncao said.
The format of the Forum is that a panel of experts will discuss relevant issues with delegates and trade officials, he said. The expert hearing may be followed by a “diplomacy dialogue” to give national delegations a change to engage with the experts.
With the involvement of academics, policy economists, and trade officials, it is hoped that solutions may emerge that save such issues from going before more formal dispute-resolution mechanisms, such as those at the World Trade Organization, Mr. Assuncao said.