These negotiations aim to reaffirm the importance of trade and environmental policy in the interests of both areas. They focus on how WTO rules apply to WTO members who are parties to environmental agreements, including clarifying the link between certain trade measures taken under environmental agreements and WTO rules. There are more than 250 multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) that deal with various environmental issues that are currently in force. About 20 of them contain provisions that could affect trade. They may include, for example, measures prohibiting trade in certain types or products or allowing countries to restrict trade in certain circumstances. To date, there has been no formal dispute within the WTO over a measure under a multilateral environmental agreement. However, the complexity of the relationship between environmental and trade rules was highlighted in the case of Chile Swordfish. Since the beginning of the negotiations, discussions have focused on the scope of the negotiating mandate (including the definition of specific trade commitments) and the possible outcomes of the negotiations. At the same time, members also began to share their national experiences in negotiating and implementing trade measures nationally under multilateral environmental agreements. Multilateral Environmental Agreements (ETAs) are an important way for countries to address environmental issues, particularly those with international or global significance. More than 250 multilateral environmental agreements (MEA) are currently in force and deal with various environmental issues. About 20 of these MEAs contain provisions to control trade in order to prevent environmental damage: at the 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference, members agreed to negotiate the relationship between WTO rules and specific trade commitments in MDAs; cooperation between the SECRETARIATs of the WTO and the MEA. These negotiations take place at extraordinary meetings of the Committee on Trade and the Environment.
The Marrakesh Ministerial Decision on Trade and the Environment sets out the work programme of the Committee on Trade and the Environment (CTE). Points 1 and 5 relate to the relationship between the rules of the multilateral trading system and the trade measures contained in THE MEAs, as well as between their dispute settlement mechanisms. In addition to examining the link between specific trade commitments in environmental agreements and WTO rules, the negotiations also examined procedures for MEA secretariats and regular WTO information exchange committees. Closer cooperation between EEA secretariats and WTO committees is essential to ensure that trade and environmental systems evolve in a coherent manner. This objective was recognized in the Implementation Plan for the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, which calls for greater cooperation between UNEP and other UN bodies and specialized institutions, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO within their mandate.