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Bangkok - 14 Apr 2023

News Number: PI/07/2023

Cover of handbook showing collaboration

The United Nations has released a new handbook to build the capacity of developing countries to design and negotiate sustainable development provisions in trade agreements that consider their specific situation, and to encourage research and discussions on maximizing the impact of such provisions in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN Handbook on Provisions and Options for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Trade Agreements uniquely provides a range of alternative sustainable development provisions with explanation on their binding nature and flexibility from legal perspective. It includes chapters on environment, labour, gender, MSMEs and investment.

Regional trade agreements are increasingly addressing various aspects of sustainable development through specific provisions and chapters. Developed economies and a growing number of developing economies have included provisions related to health, environment, labour rights, engagement of small and medium sized-enterprises and environment. Many less developed economies have expressed concerns about the inclusion of such non-trade issues as they create potential new trade barriers. At the same time, however, governments in key international markets are taking steps to increase sustainable development related non-tariff measures in trade agreements and this trend may be expected to accelerate.

The Handbook, developed by the five UN Regional Commissions, UNCTAD and other partners, was launched at the Rethinking World Trade 2023 conference hosted by Georgetown University yesterday. The guide is based on inputs collected from a wide range of experts, including from WTO, civil society, academia and the private sector, under the Global Initiative on Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Provisions in Trade Agreements.

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