World Trade Report 2010

Trade in Natural Resources

image of World Trade Report 2010

The World Trade Report 2010 focuses on trade in natural resources, such as fuels, forestry, mining and fisheries. The Report examines the characteristics of trade in natural resources, the policy choices available to governments and the role of international cooperation, particularly of the WTO, in the proper management of trade in this sector. A key question is to what extent countries gain from open trade in natural resources. Some of the issues examined in the Report include the role of trade in providing access to natural resources, the effects of international trade on the sustainability of natural resources, the environmental impact of resources trade, the so-called natural resources curse, and resource price volatility. The Report examines a range of key measures employed in natural resource sectors, such as export taxes, tariffs and subsidies, and provides information on their current use. It analyzes in detail the effects of these policy tools on an economy and on its trading partners. Finally, the Report provides an overview of how natural resources fit within the legal framework of the WTO and discusses other international agreements that regulate trade in natural resources. A number of challenges are addressed, including the regulation of export policy, the treatment of subsidies, trade facilitation, and the relationship between WTO rules and other international agreements.

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This report has addressed four fundamental issues relating to natural resources trade. The first is how key economic features of natural resources and the manner of their exchange influence patterns of trade for this class of goods. Second, we have examined how far the absence of trade barriers provides an efficient mechanism for ensuring access to natural resources and their long-run sustainability. The third issue concerns the incentives that governments face in setting trade policy in natural resource sectors and the consequences of this incentive structure. Finally, the report has considered how international cooperation affects the management of trade in natural resources, with particular emphasis on the role of the WTO.

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