The conclusion of the Uruguay Round and activation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as the spread of regional free trade agreements and other liberalization measures, heralds an enormous expansion of global trade well into the next century. While this wave of commercial growth and opportunity will have multiple economic, social and legal ramifications, its current and future impact on the environment, and the associated regulatory schemes that may evolve - are coming under particular scrutiny.

There may be no better example of the heightened awareness of the dynamics between trade and the environment than the ongoing development of environmental management standards by the International Standards Organization (ISO), particularly the "ISO 14000" series. Briefly, these standards, which are being developed by the Technical Committee (TC 207) of the ISO, are designed to provide organizations with a common approach to environmental management, based on responsible and verifiable operating strategies voluntarily implemented.

ISO 14000 seeks the more efficient use of natural resources, and enhanced environmental protection, through the development of corporate environmental policies, environmental objectives and targets to meet these goals, strategic plans and management programs for implementation, and performance evaluation and auditing procedures. These standards will cover environmental management systems; environmental auditing; product life-cycle analysis; and environmental labeling.

Certification of ISO 14000 compliance may become a necessary component of international competitiveness as these standards are finalized and companies begin their internalization. Consequently, practitioners specializing both in environmental and international trade law will need to know about them. The confluence of environmental and trade issues posed by these emerging standards will challenge counsel in various ways.

For example, from a policy development perspective, an opportunity exists at the multilateral level to affect the final version of the standards, issued by the ISO, as well as to shape the WTO's views on the role of standards in connection with trade and the environment. Input at the regional, national or local level may also be warranted on the appropriate role of governmental entities seeking to extend, retain or waive jurisdiction in this area. As the potential certainly exists for these standards to be used as a pretext to raise new trade barriers in violation of WTO rules, trade counsel must be prepared to advise companies adversely affected by such abuses.

And of course, sound advice from experienced environmental lawyers will be fundamental to the successful formulation and implementation of (and adherence to), a conforming environmental management regime under ISO 14000.

WilmerHale, with its active environmental and international trade specializations, is particularly well-situated to coordinate PRAC's work in this area. Our environmental practice is engaged in the broadcast range of eco-management issues, including environmental audits; assessment of environmental and hazardous waste risks; lobbying; litigation in federal, state, and administrative proceedings on major civil and criminal matters; obtaining complex air emission and water discharge permits; insurance policy claims for reimbursement and indemnity; wetlands regulation; cogeneration plant and hydroelectric dam permits; Superfund proceedings; and many other areas.

Our Trade Department regularly advises companies facing unfair competition in both the United States and abroad, including non-tariff barriers to trade. Our attorneys are extremely familiar with the new WTO rules, and played key roles in their negotiation and implementation. Our trade attorneys and trade economists offer extensive experience in trade litigation and policy matters before federal agencies, Congress and the courts. They also work closely with both the firm's environmental and international practice groups on matters of mutual interest.

The conclusion of the Uruguay Round and activation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as the spread of regional free trade agreements and other liberalization measures, heralds an enormous expansion of global trade well into the next century. While this wave of commercial growth and opportunity will have multiple economic, social and legal ramifications, its current and future impact on the environment, and the associated regulatory schemes that may evolve - are coming under particular scrutiny.

There may be no better example of the heightened awareness of the dynamics between trade and the environment than the ongoing development of environmental management standards by the International Standards Organization (ISO), particularly the "ISO 14000" series. Briefly, these standards, which are being developed by the Technical Committee (TC 207) of the ISO, are designed to provide organizations with a common approach to environmental management, based on responsible and verifiable operating strategies voluntarily implemented.

Read More
Clayton, Carol

Carol Clayton

Partner-in-Charge, Washington DC Office

Chair, Environmental Practice

+1 202 663 6650 (t)

carol.clayton@wilmerhale.com

Clayton, Carol

Carol Clayton

Partner

+1 202 663 6650 (t)

carol.clayton@wilmerhale.com

Cohn, Andrew H.

Andrew H. Cohn

Partner

+1 617 526 6218 (t)

andrew.cohn@wilmerhale.com

Kalpin, Mark C.

Mark C. Kalpin

Partner

+1 617 526 6176 (t)

mark.kalpin@wilmerhale.com

Kirsch, Robert C.

Robert C. Kirsch

Partner

+1 617 526 6779 (t)

rob.kirsch@wilmerhale.com

Louis, Frédéric

Frédéric Louis

Partner

+32 2 285 49 53 (t)

frederic.louis@wilmerhale.com

Meade, Kenneth R.

Kenneth R. Meade

Partner

+1 202 663 6196 (t)

kenneth.meade@wilmerhale.com

Ross, Lester

Lester Ross

Partner

+86 10 5901 6588 (t)

lester.ross@wilmerhale.com

Seyfarth, Martin

Martin Seyfarth

Partner

+49 30 20 22 64 30 (t)

martin.seyfarth@wilmerhale.com