Trade can significantly contribute to sustainable and inclusive development. This has been increasingly recognized, and trade agreements are expanding in scope to address various aspects of development more directly. As the inclusion of sustainable and inclusive development provisions becomes more systematic, it will be important that the new provisions meet the needs of both developed and developing trade partners and to design them so that they have a real impact on advancing the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). ESCAP, in cooperation with ECA, ECLAC, ESCWA, UNECE, UNCTAD and other partners, launched the Initiative on Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements (IMSDP) to build the capacity to design and negotiate sustainable development provisions tailored to specific situations of different economies. This handbook, prepared in close collaboration with the Centre on Inclusive Trade and Development at Georgetown Law, is a first deliverable under this new initiative.
The objective of this “Handbook on Provisions and Options for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Trade Agreements” (Handbook) is to present an overview of existing law in different areas and to share options for negotiators, particularly from developing economies, for RTA provisions that could enhance the contribution of trade to inclusive and sustainable development. It covers five key issue areas of sustainable development: (1) micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), (2) gender, (3) environment, (4) labour, and (5) investment, drawing upon different RTA models from around the world. For each issue area, this Handbook presents example options for trade negotiators to incorporate inclusive and sustainable development consideration, accompanied by explanatory notes to guide negotiators in weighing different approaches and tradeoffs. Most options are presented ranging from the lowest to the highest level of commitment, with exceptions explained. Where possible, the degree to which these approaches are more common or less common is also noted.
More information about the Initiative is available HERE.
This publication has been issued without formal editing. It is a living document expected to be modified from time to time based on feedback from users.