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Trade and Sustainable Development is addressed in Chapter 2 of Agenda 21, and in Chapter V and Chapter X of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. 

Trade liberalisation and globalisation can have both positive and negative effects on sustainable development. There is a continued need to support efforts by developing countries to integrate themselves into and derive benefits from the multilateral trading system. At the same time, attention also must be given to enhancing the contribution of the multilateral trading system to sustainable development. 

A supportive international economic environment is crucial. Agenda 21 calls for “a supportive international climate for achieving environment and development goals by:

  1. promoting sustainable development through trade liberalisation;
  2. making trade and environment mutually supportive;
  3. providing adequate financial resources to developing countries dealing with international debt; and
  4. encouraging macroeconomic policies conducive to environment and development.” 

Trade and and sustainable development were discussed at the first, second, third, fourth and fifth session of the Commission. Within the framework of the Commission’s multi-year programme of work, this issue was again discussed at the eighth session, together with economic growth and investment, as one of the major cross-sectoral themes. 

Recognizing the major role that trade can play in achieving sustainable development and in poverty eradication, the Plan of Implementation encourages WTO members to pursue the work programme agreed at the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference.