EU biofuels sustainability standards and certification systems - how to seek WTO-compatibility

Ackrill, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-0739-1812 and Kay, A., 2011. EU biofuels sustainability standards and certification systems - how to seek WTO-compatibility. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 62 (3), pp. 551-564. ISSN 1477-9552

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Biofuels are increasingly being produced and consumed as a partial substitute to fossil-fuel based transport fuels in the fight against climate change. Sustainability criteria have been introduced recently by some countries to help ensure biofuels perform better than fossil fuels environmentally. Concerns have been expressed from various quarters that such criteria could represent World Trade Organisation (WTO)-incompatible barriers to trade. The present paper addresses two specific issues. First, it argues that biofuels can be expected to be treated like any other traded product under WTO law. Thus an importing country could not impose different trade measures dependent on whether the biofuel complied with its sustainability criteria. Second, the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBTA) provides guidance on how to draw up criteria to help ensure WTO compatibility. This cannot guarantee compatibility, but it can help reduce significantly the chances of WTO Members bringing actions against a fellow Member’s biofuels sustainability criteria. There is little direct case law to draw upon but it is argued that, if the TBT guidance is followed, in the long term the absence of case law can be taken as an indication that the sustainability criteria established are WTO-compatible.

Item Type: Journal article
Description: The definitive version is available at
Publication Title: Journal of Agricultural Economics
Creators: Ackrill, R. and Kay, A.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 2011
Volume: 62
Number: 3
ISSN: 1477-9552
Rights: © 2011 The Agricultural Economics Society and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 11:16
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:54

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