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Trade matters. It has the potential to advance sustainable, low-carbon development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement climate commitments present fundamental challenges to trade policy; so too do growing protectionism and the fraying of multilateralism. 

IISD has been working on international trade for over two decades. Our work mirrors the scientific, economic, fiscal, legal and environmental aspects of trade. IISD focuses on reforms to the World Trade Organization and other trade agreements (including the North American Free Trade Agreement); options for new industrial policies functioning within a rules-based system; and whether trade can accelerate renewable energy and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. IISD examines trade-related issues ranging from global food security and other commitments set out in the SDGs, to innovative financing for sustainable infrastructure, carbon-border adjustment measures and the role of big data. 

IISD works with developing countries and others on international investment treaties. It also addresses trade issues through its flagship Investment Treaty News, Global Subsidies Initiative and the SDG Knowledge Hub.   

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  • Blog
    The USMCA Is Now in Force: How will it impact North American trade policy?

    The USMCA Is Now in Force: How will it impact North American trade policy?

    The new accord governs a multi-trillion dollar market and is expected to face heavy scrutiny within the three countries, especially during a U.S. election year.

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  • Blog
    Making the International Trade System Work for Climate Change:  Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies through the WTO and International Trade Agreements

    Making the International Trade System Work for Climate Change: Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies through the WTO and International Trade Agreements

    Can the international trade system be a catalyst for reforming fossil fuel subsidies (FFSs) to help relieve the burden on the public purse, reduce local and global air pollution, improve energy security and tackle climate change? 

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  • Blog
    World Leaders Must Play Their Part in Rethinking Trade so It Can Help Us “Build Back Better”

    World Leaders Must Play Their Part in Rethinking Trade so It Can Help Us “Build Back Better”

    While the question of who will lead the WTO is important, political leaders must also renew their commitment to working together if trade is to contribute to a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient world.

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  • Report
    Tomorrow Needs Us Today: IISD’s 2020-2025 Strategic Direction

    Tomorrow Needs Us Today: IISD’s 2020-2025 Strategic Direction

    We are guided by five core priorities—Climate, Resources, Economies, Act Together and Engage—which form our CREATE strategy, presented in this document.

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  • Blog
    The U.K.’s Global Tariff: A new broom sweeps green?

    The U.K.’s Global Tariff: A new broom sweeps green?

    In liberalizing the trade of dozens of environmental goods, the U.K. signals its commitment to tackling climate change. But is this enough?

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  • Blog
    How Can a Six-Digit Trade Code Help the Environment?

    How Can a Six-Digit Trade Code Help the Environment?

    Every single thing that gets shipped from one country to another has a special trade code assigned to it. How can this help the environment?

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  • Report
    Joint Statement on Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises: History and latest developments in the Informal Working Group

    Joint Statement on Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises: History and latest developments in the Informal Working Group

    This brief outlines the history and developments of MSME-related discussions in the World Trade Organization (WTO) context, looking specifically at MSME-related issues at the WTO as well as in other forums and contexts.

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  • Report
    Code Shift: The environmental significance of the 2022 amendments to the Harmonized System

    Code Shift: The environmental significance of the 2022 amendments to the Harmonized System

    This report explains how recent amendments to the harmonized coding system used to track international merchandise trade will help improve the monitoring of trade in both environmentally sensitive products and environmental goods.

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  • Blog
    Could the COVID-19 Pandemic Give the 2020 Environmental Agenda a Much-Needed Boost?

    Could the COVID-19 Pandemic Give the 2020 Environmental Agenda a Much-Needed Boost?

    COVID-19 has changed everything. But if we take the right steps and trust science, there's potential for a lot of good to happen.

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  • Best Practices
    IISD Best Practices Series: Terminating a Bilateral Investment Treaty

    IISD Best Practices Series: Terminating a Bilateral Investment Treaty

    This paper examines recent state practice in bilateral investment treaty (BIT) terminations and related drafting, along with presenting options for states interested in addressing their stock of older BITs through termination and renegotiation.

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