The first Trade Night held at Ecologic Institute, focused on the environment-related provisions of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a bilateral trade and investment agreement negotiated between Canada and the EU. Trade Nights are a regular series of events convened by Ecologic Institute that provide a forum for the trade community in Berlin to meet informally to discuss current trade policy issues.
Richard Tarasofsky, Counsellor (Commercial) at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, who was involved in the CETA negotiations for the Canadian side, gave an overview of the most important environment-related provisions. These include a chapter on trade and the environment, another one on trade and sustainable development, and general exception provisions modeled on Art. XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
One important feature of CETA's trade and environment chapter is that it contains an explicit clause to the end that the parties are not to encourage trade or investment by reducing the levels of protection afforded in domestic environmental laws. It also contains an institutional mechanism for the resolution of disputes concerning the trade and environment chapter. Other provisions that may be relevant for environmental regulation are the provisions on technical barriers to trade (TBT), the chapter on regulatory cooperation and the provisions on investment.
The input was followed by short statements by Fabian Wendenburg, representing the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and Nils Meyer-Ohlendorf, Senior Fellow, Ecologic Institute. Fabian Wendenburg considered CETA to be a good agreement, which could be a blueprint for other agreements. Yet he also criticized some of the definitions used in the chapter on investment as too narrow. Nils Meyer-Ohlendorf questioned, among others, whether the provisions on dispute settlement in the environment chapter really had enough "teeth", in particular when compared to the provisions on investor-state dispute settlement.
An important aspect in the subsequent discussion was dispute settlement. There were diverging opinions on whether clauses on investor-state dispute settlement were needed in agreements between states with efficient, rule-of-law legal systems. One proposal was that clauses in investment agreements should only allow recourse to international arbitration when domestic judicial mechanisms do not work effectively.
Trade Nights are a regular series of events convened by Ecologic Institute that provide a forum for the trade community in Berlin to meet informally and to discuss current trade policy issues. If you would like to receive invitations to future events, please contact Christiane Gerstetter.