Trade Policy at Work

Trade-related Measures in Nationally Determined Contributions: State of play in South and Southeast Asia

This note examines trade-related measures in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of South and Southeast Asian countries. It starts by outlining the main linkages between trade and climate change, before identifying relevant trade measures in the region’s NDCs. Suggestions are also made towards better mainstreaming trade into NDCs, e.g. by adding a dedicated section, enhancing research and data collection capacities, harnessing relevant international knowledge-sharing platforms, and leveraging trade agreements to advance harmonization of environmental standards.

International trade represents 20-30% of global GHG emissions and can contribute to depleting natural resources or encourage pollution havens, making it a critical target area for climate policies and regulations.

Also, international trade rules may clash with climate response measures, hence the need to ensure coherent approaches across both fields.

While very few NDCs explicitly mention trade, many of their measures are of direct relevance to it. These include, inter alia, plans for renewable energy subsidies, tax incentives and standards for industrial-sector energy-efficient technology use, as well as labelling to improve efficiency in construction and buildings.