WTO: DG Okonjo-Iweala highlights importance of trade cooperation at new carbon mitigation forum


WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the launch of the Inclusive Forum on Carbon Mitigation Approaches (IFCMA) on  February 9, 2023, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, which gathered senior officials from around 100 economies to discuss and coordinate emission reduction efforts. The World Trade Organization stands ready to play its role in supporting the new initiative and ensuring that diverse actors pull together in the fight against climate change, the Director-General said in her keynote presentation.


“To keep the world pulling together on climate action, advanced, emerging, and developing economies will need to find ways to coordinate across divergent national policies. Coordination in turn will rest on data and shared understandings about the impacts of different policies. That’s why this forum matters,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said at the launch event, at the invitation of the OECD.

Former Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who chairs the United Nations High‑level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities, International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol and Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa for the India G20 Presidency, also delivered presentations following the opening address of OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann. More information on IFCMA is available here.

“As governments begin to get serious about decarbonizing our economies – better late than never – we need to maximize the positive cross-border spillovers of their climate change policies, while minimizing the negative spillovers. We cannot do this without cooperation on trade. The WTO stands ready to play its part in working with you in this forum and elsewhere,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said.

The Director-General further noted that the proliferation of approaches to reducing emissions poses difficulties for many developing countries and that it is important to consider their concerns about challenges to proving compliance with border requirements for their exports. To achieve a just and inclusive transition to net-zero emissions by mid-century, transaction costs associated with greenhouse gas mitigation policies must be minimised, while simultaneously curbing carbon leakage, she said.

She emphasised that the familiar “bread and butter” of trade policy, such as improving transparency, lowering trade barriers on green goods and services, and reducing climate-unfriendly distortions such as subsidies for fossil fuel, are effective tools for harnessing trade and the WTO as a stronger force for decarbonization.

The video recording of the opening session of the IFCMA is available here.


About WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.