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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.   

  • 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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  • Commentary
    A wish list for an environmentally friendly NAFTA

    A wish list for an environmentally friendly NAFTA

    The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been progressing along a very rocky path, with the U.S., Canada and Mexico all threatening at one point or another to exit the pact. But slow progress is being made toward a new agreement.

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  • Commentary
    U.S. Economy and Workers Have Most to Lose from Tariff Hikes

    U.S. Economy and Workers Have Most to Lose from Tariff Hikes

    IISD economic modelling analysis confirms and quantifies recent predictions that import restrictions are likely to harm the U.S. economy itself. 

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2017

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship quarterly journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Commentary
    Environmental and Public Interest Considerations in NAFTA Renegotiation

    Environmental and Public Interest Considerations in NAFTA Renegotiation

    This commentary supports and contributes to propositions on how NAFTA parties should seek to modernize the agreement for the benefit of the North American public and ecosystems.

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  • Paper
    Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

    Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

    Based on a review of 150 instruments, ranging from international investment agreements to codes of multinational enterprises, this paper identifies ten core characteristics of sustainable FDI and twenty emerging sustainable FDI characteristics widely accepted across ten stakeholder groups

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  • Report
    Assessing the Impacts of Investment Treaties: Overview of the evidence

    Assessing the Impacts of Investment Treaties: Overview of the evidence

    Investment treaties grant powerful legal rights to foreign investors. Foreign investors’ ability to frame plausible multimillion-dollar claims against a wide range of host government actions—and the fact that these claims are adjudicated through a system of private arbitration—has made investment treaties controversial. This scoping study seeks to provide an overview and assessment of existing evidence of investment treaties’ impacts.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2017

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship quarterly journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Commentary
    Renegotiating NAFTA: Pros and cons for Canada and Mexico

    Renegotiating NAFTA: Pros and cons for Canada and Mexico

    As NAFTA renegotiations continue, it is useful to examine what might happen if NAFTA tariff preferences disappear. This paper uses an economic trade model to simulate the impacts of a 20 per cent tariff increase in North American industries such as energy, steel, cement and automobiles.  

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  • Commentary
    NAFTA Renegotiations Must Protect 20 Years of Progress on Labour and Environmental Protections in Trade Agreements and Address New Risks

    NAFTA Renegotiations Must Protect 20 Years of Progress on Labour and Environmental Protections in Trade Agreements and Address New Risks

    Sandra Polaski, an expert on labour and social policy issues at national and global levels gives us her take on the NAFTA negotiations in relation to labour, environment and trade agreements.

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