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Sunday, May 14, 2006 






Trade and the Environment and Caribbean Reality
by Senator Delano Franklyn Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Sunday, May 14, 2006

CARICOM member states and other Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), in advancing their agenda at the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, drew special attention to the peculiar situation of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and their vulnerability which is primarily a result of their unique environmental conditions.

The region's vulnerability has taken on grave new proportions in the wake of the recent spate of hurricanes with their devastating effects. Small vulnerable economies emphasised in the WTO that SIDs' vulnerability to natural disasters as well as their size and other structural handicaps have impeded their effective participation in the multilateral trading system.

Small vulnerable economies have argued that these and other characteristics must be taken into account in the formulation and application of WTO rules, as well as the liberalisation of undertakings required of such countries.

Ministers at Doha, concerned about the situation of these small vulnerable economies, agreed to a work programme to examine the issues relating to the trade of small vulnerable economies, to facilitate their fuller integration into the multilateral trading system. This was a significant achievement for small, developing economies in the WTO.

It is evident that the protection of the environment, as well as disaster management and mitigation, remain central to our efforts towards achieving our sustainable development goals.
To this end, we support international initiatives aimed at protecting the environment and ensuring the safety of our food, water and air.

Jamaica and other CARICOM states are a party and a signatory to numerous Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in pursuit of these objectives.Jamaica is also supportive of a bold initiative in CARICOM, the Association of Caribbean States and within the United Nations to gain recognition of the Caribbean Sea as a special area in the context of sustainable development.

We also have a mandate in the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the CSME to promote measures to ensure the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, life and health of humans, animals and plants, and to adopt initiatives at the community level to address regional environmental problems.

The region's environmental professionals are important stakeholders in our efforts to achieve the goals enshrined in the revised treaty. We must ensure that the wider civil society is also informed and encouraged to support these objectives.

TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT - A BACKGROUND

Linking trade and environment issues has historically been controversial. It was in the early 1970s that there was growing international concern regarding the impact of economic growth on social development and the environment.

This led to the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Since then, trade and environment has become inextricably linked, given that international trade drives changes in national patterns of production of goods and services which, in turn, impact on the domestic environment. Similarly, the environment and environmental concerns impact on trade. As an engine of growth, trade can also provide the necessary resources for environmental conservation.

TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT IN THE WTO CONTEXT

For the first time in multilateral trade negotiations, trade and environment issues were included in the round of WTO negotiations launched at Doha in November 2001.

The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of December 2005 reaffirms the mandate for negotiations in this area and calls for their expeditious conclusion. The negotiations are seeking to clarify the relationship between WTO rules and multilateral environmental agreements as well as to reduce or eliminate non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services.

In these negotiations, there needs to be greater engagement by developing countries if our development concerns are to be effectively addressed. Furthermore, as trade and environment will be part of the 'single undertaking' at the end of the negotiations, it is important that we examine the role that trade and environment might play in the final outcome of the negotiations.

We in the Caribbean must also define the terms under which trade and environment is addressed particularly within the context of a rules-based organisation like the WTO.

We must ensure that in doing so the particular concerns of small vulnerable economies, the majority of which are small island developing states, are addressed. Importantly, we must also ensure that in examining trade and environment issues, environmental measures are not used as a barrier to trade.

As tariff barriers are dismantled, there is concern that product and process-related requirements, including environmental health requirements are being used as technical barriers to trade, complicating market access for developing countries. Developing countries have been very vocal about this issue in the ongoing negotiations in the WTO and Jamaica fully supports this position.

It is also recognised that products of particular export interest to developing countries such as fisheries products are more affected by non-tariff barriers (NTBs) than other sector. This is of particular concern since Jamaica and many other sister islands in the Caribbean are exporters of fisheries products.

Invariably, it is the small poor farmers and fishermen in developing countries, including those in the Caribbean, without the capacity and the resources to implement stringent standards, who will be excluded from international markets if careful attention is not paid to this issue.

There are currently some 650,000 standards that developing countries have to deal with when they export their merchandise, particularly to developed country markets.

In many developed countries, regulatory policy is increasingly focusing on protection of the environment as well as health and safety. It is also estimated that at least 10% of the export losses of all developing countries arise from measures related to sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.

It, therefore, cannot be over-emphasised that the ongoing trade and environment negotiations should not place developing countries and particularly small vulnerable economies in a more disadvantageous position in terms of market access opportunities.

In this regard, we continue to stress that the development imperative of the Doha Round, in the area of trade and environment, must be met through increased market access for environmental goods and services of export interest to developing countries.

ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS AND SERVICES

Even though we remain concerned regarding the application of environmental measures as technical barriers to trade, we recognise that the sustainable use of natural resources is an important element in promoting the use of environmental goods and services.

However, the jury is still out in the WTO on what should constitute environmental goods and services.

There are various proposals on the table and prior to Hong Kong, an initial list of nine environmental goods was created which includes products such as natural gas. Here in the region, we have not tabled any proposal on the issue since we need to identify the products and services which we consider of export interest to us. I challenge you to actively contribute to our efforts to do so.

On the issue of multilateral environmental agreements and trade there continues to be some tension in the WTO between the effort to address these issues in trade and the push to clarify trade measures in the multilateral environmental agreements. A resolution of this matter is important for Jamaica.

CONCH

I will use the particular case of conch to illustrate how important it is that the mutual supportiveness of both areas should be encouraged.

In 2001, the European Union imposed a temporary trade suspension on imports of queen conch from Jamaica. This action was taken on the basis of outdated information and without the benefit of appropriate consultation with the relevant Jamaican authorities and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The ban was eventually lifted after Jamaica submitted updated information involving extensive and costly research. If the ban had remained, Jamaica would have lost significant market share and considerable foreign exchange earnings as well as lost investment and employment at the national level.

This was a difficult and direct manifestation of the challenges that trade and environment provisions in the multilateral environmental agreements could pose to small economies.

Despite these setbacks, Jamaica's management strategy for conch has come to be lauded in CITES and other international fora as one which queen conch-exporting states could emulate.
While recognising the progress made in our management of this issue I must draw attention to the very real problems posed to our own efforts to ensure sustainable harvesting of conch, lobster and other marine resources by illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, otherwise called poaching.

This harmful activity in Jamaican waters not only decimates the fish stocks available for legal trade but also disturbs the ecological balance and seriously threatens the future of the fishing industry.

Between 2003-2004, Jamaica lost over US$2.7 million from the poaching of conch and US$4.8 million from lobster. Combating illegal fishing in our waters remains a challenge from which we will not relent.

ORGANIC AGRICULTURE

The world market for certified organic agricultural products is growing rapidly. It grew by 12% in 2003 offering promising export and development opportunities for developing countries.
Jamaica has a fledging organic food industry and I wish to encourage entrepreneurs including those in small enterprises to continue to explore the export potential of such products and forge alliances with entities that have the economic and technological base to spearhead their commercial exploitation.

Jamaica has also secured investments to promote the use of renewable energy under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

It is significant to note that the Wigton Wind Farm in Manchester which was commissioned in May 2004 is benefiting from a project within the context of the Clean Development Mechanism. The project is being implemented in collaboration with the government of Holland.

Holland supports the project financially and in turn gains credit (known as certified emission reductions or CERs), which goes towards meeting its Kyoto targets. This has no doubt resulted in a win-win situation for Jamaica, in that we gain financially at the same time as we reduce our emission of greenhouse gases.

We must continue to explore similar initiatives in other areas such as the tourism sector. Several tourism entities in Jamaica have secured the prestigious Green Globe certification on the basis of the application of environmental standards to their tourism product.

In addition, a number of our beaches and marinas have received Blue Flag certification which attests to their sound environmental practices.

The government is currently finalising the national policy and strategy for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). EMS is a tool which both private and public sector entities and communities as a whole can employ in 'greening' their operations.

All of this points to the fact that there is a growing recognition of the value of environmental consciousness, not just among activists but among our business persons as well. We, therefore, wish to encourage the rest of the sub-region to support our efforts and we look forward to even deeper collaboration within the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

(Edited version of a speech presented by Delano Franklyn at a Regional Workshop for Environmental Professionals at the Pegasus Hotel on Friday, May 5, 2006)

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