On June 20-21, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Committee on Trade and Development was convened under the chairmanship of the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Zhanar Aitzhanova. This is the first time Kazakhstan chaired one of the key committees of the Organization since joining the WTO.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Environment Program (UNEP), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and all WTO member-states.
From the outset Ambassador Aitzhanova highlighted the importance of the discussions related to identifying the relationship between trade and environment in order to facilitate the development of any potential deliverables of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, scheduled for December this year in Buenos Aires (Argentina), and urged the participants to have active and constructive discussions.
At the meeting WTO Secretariat's progress report on the state-of-play in the negotiations among WTO members to develop a multilateral agreement to prohibit certain types fish subsidies was reviewed. It is expected that subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as those contributing to overfishing and overcapacity will be prohibited. It was noted that these discussions are conducted in a very intensive pace, and their successful completion could become one of the important outcomes of the WTO Ministerial Conference.
A report by the representative of Australia on progress in negotiations on the conclusion of the plurilateral Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) was also presented. The objective of the EGA is to eliminate import duties on a number of goods and equipment, which in turn will improve market access of small and medium-sized enterprises to green technologies and, thus, create an additional incentive for the development of projects in the field of renewable energy.
A representative of FAO informed the meeting participants about the Organization's projects aimed at combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The acute need to resolve the issue of illegal fishing was supported by a number of WTO members who noted that such practice accounts for 30% of fishing activity or 10-23 billion US dollars.
Another important agenda item was related to the implementation process of the Paris Agreement on Climate. A representative of the UNFCCC briefed the delegates on the current state-of-play of the climate change discussions. So far already 148 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, and now the main remaining task is to agree on a work program for its implementation.
Within this segment representatives of the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Peru presented their general plans for the implementation of the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions, which will aid to achieve the objectives specified in the Paris Agreement.
The delegation of Kazakhstan acquainted the participants of the event with its initiatives contributing to the implementation of the Paris agreement and also informed about holding of the EXPO-2017 in Astana with the theme "Future Energy". In addition, the delegation briefed on the results of the Ministerial Conference "Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable Energy" held within the framework of the Expo and about infirmed about the decision made to open International Center for Green Technologies and Investments in Astana. .
Furthermore, issue of Fossil Fuel subsidies, implementation aspects of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer were discussed at the meeting and ISO standard on carbon footprint.
The next meeting of the Committee on Trade and Environment will be held in November 2017.