Discussion Papers

No.467 Environmental Provisions in Japanese Regional Trade Agreements with Developing Countries

by YANAI Akiko

March 2014


With the growing interest in environmental issues in the global community, recently concluded regional trade agreements (RTAs) have introduced environmental provisions. These RTAs will help achieve sustainable development at the intersection of trade liberalization and ever-increasing environmental concerns. However, environmental provisions are not incorporated into all RTAs. For example, Japanese RTAs often incorporate environmental issues only in the preamble or relevant articles. As the first step in examining the environmental provisions in RTAs, this paper focuses on the RTAs that Japan has concluded with developing countries.

The main characteristic of environmental provisions in Japanese RTAs is that there are very few relevant provisions. All Japanese RTAs has neither environmental chapters nor side agreements. However, the attitude toward the environment in Japanese RTAs has gradually changed since the signing of the Japan-Chile EPA in 2007, in which a joint environmental statement was adopted. Although Japanese RTAs have environmental provisions, environmental problems originating from the RTAs may occur. One of the possible causes is a lack of environmental impact assessment. Japanese RTAs need to incorporate an environmental impact assessment system in order to identify environmental problems resulting from its RTAs, and to enable the country to take appropriate measures at the appropriate time.

Keywords: regional trade agreement, environmental provisions, trade and the environment

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