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Philippine Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Esteban B. Conejos Jr, was appointed Chairman of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment during the WTO General Council meeting held on February 25 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) is one of the subsidiary bodies of the WTO General Council. It is the standing forum dedicated to dialogue between governments on the impact of trade policies on the environment, and of environment policies on trade.

Created through the 1994 Ministerial Decision on Trade and Environment, the Committee has followed a comprehensive work program, from trade and the environment in general, liberalization and trade barriers, and taxes, to individual sectors such as services and intellectual property, and relations with environmental organizations. With its broad-based mandate, the CTE has contributed to bringing environmental and sustainable development issues into the mainstream of WTO’s work.

The 2001 Doha Declaration has a section dealing with the committee’s regular work. Under the Doha Declaration, the focus is on effects of environmental measures on market access, the relevant provisions of the intellectual property agreement, labeling requirements for environmental purposes, technical assistance, sharing expertise for national environmental reviews and environmental aspects of the Doha negotiations.

Ambassador Conejos, who presented his credentials as Philippine Permanent Representative to the WTO on July 27, 2012, succeeds Ambassador Krisda Piampongsant, former Permanent Representative of Thailand to the WTO.

The appointment term is one year, with the possibility of reappointment.

The ASEAN Committee in Geneva and the Asian Group of Developing Countries unanimously endorsed his appointment.

His selection was made through consensus by the membership. According to WTO guidelines, the choice of a chairperson should primarily reflect the capacity and the availability of that person to undertake the special responsibilities required of such posts in the WTO system.

Ambassador Conejos welcomed his appointment. As CTE Chairman, he vowed to continue the tradition of being impartial and objective, and to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in decision-making and consultative processes. He also pledged to facilitate consensus, and to help the member-driven organization achieve progress for the benefit of all.