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TULIP Year in Review 2023

Editorial "Missing Pieces"

2023 has been a packed year for TULIP Consulting. A big part of this year's focus for TULIP was on identifying and addressing "missing pieces" in an increasingly complex trade and sustainable development landscape.

With regards to the EU green trade agenda, pursued through mostly unilateral measures, one missing piece is the development dimension. Together with Europe Jacques Delors, TULIP has contributed to developing a "Triangle Framework"  - focused on the trade, environment and development - nexus, suggesting how the EU can better integrate the development dimension in its green trade agenda going forward.

To understand better specific challenges and opportunities developing countries face in the context of the green transition, TULIP has also worked closely with developing country governments, delivering workshops and training sessions in Africa and Asia, in sessions organized by the International Trade Centre and the World Bank.

Many of these discussions highlighted the importance of developing trade and development approaches that enable countries to grow and create jobs while at the same time addressing climate change and other environmental challenges. Doing so requires developing pro-active and forward-looking approaches to sustainable development and industrial policy - another missing piece. As aptly put by Dani Rodrik and Stiglitz in a January 2024 paper:

"we are at a turning point in development strategy. Strategies that worked well in the past are unlikely to do so in the decades ahead...New technologies, the climate challenge, and the reconfiguration of globalization require a new approach for development emphasizing two critical areas: the green transition and labor-absorbing services. Unfortunately, policy makers do not have ready-made recipes or successful models to emulate."

 Another key focus area of TULIP Consulting in 2023 was the circular economy. In work commissioned by OVAM, the Flanders Waste Management Agency, TULIP developed a legal framework for the EU to address excessive resource consumption - the missing piece of the EU's circular economy agenda mostly focuses on waste management. This report will be used to inform the priorities set by the Belgian government now that it has taken over the presidency of the EU Council. TULIP also completed a comprehensive study for GIZ on trade law and an inclusive circular transition for developing countries, focusing on the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). TULIP also participated in the Remaking Trade for a Sustainable Future Project, contributing research on the circular economy and the textiles industry in Africa.

The importance of achieving global food security has been another key theme of TULIP's work in 2023. As part of the London School of Economics Firoz Lalji Institute, TULIP has developed new research focused on how trade rules - both the WTO and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) - can be leveraged to advance food security objectives in Africa. This work addressed, inter alia, trade-offs between domestic and international food security, and synergies between food security and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

This year, TULIP also had the opportunity to venture into the quantitative realm, working with the World Bank and the UK Government to code new RTAs using the methodology developed as part of the World Bank's Deep Trade Agreement Database. This methodology enables negotiators and policy makers to better understand how RTA commitments compare to other countries.

TULIP would like to express thanks to its partners and clients and advisors. In particular, TULIP is grateful to its team of consultants whose hard work has been instrumental to 2023's success: Gabriela Alcantara Torres, Arianna Bondi, Sparsha Janardhan, Jayasurya Kalakkal, Patrick Low, Chanya Punyakumpol, Sunayana Sasmal, Marios Tokas, and Emma Watkins.

Colette van der Ven, Founding Director

January 2024, Geneva


Research Papers 2023

The Missing Piece of the EU Green Deal: The case for an EU Resources Law 

Commissioned by OVAM (Flanders Public Waste Agency)

Authors: Colette van der Ven, Emma Watkins, Arianna Bondi

December 2023

 This report makes the case that, for the EU’s Green Deal to be effective, it is critical to target the root cause of the triple environmental crises of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss: excessive extraction, production, manufacturing and consumption of material resources. Addressing material resource consumption by establishing an EU Material Resources Law will be critical to meet the fourfold objectives set out in the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and stay within planetary boundaries. Moreover, the EU will not achieve its climate change targets without making progress on resource consumption.

A pro-Development Green trade Agenda for COP28

Europe Jacques Delors

Authors: Pascal Lamy, Genevieve Pons, Colette van der Ven, Claudia Azevedo

November 2023

The 2023 UN Climate Conference (COP28) is remarkable for several reasons, one being the debut of trade in the Official COP Programme, recognizing trade’s pivotal role in climate solutions. This paper explores development-friendly approaches to greening trade, focusing on carbon pricing and border carbon schemes, and trade in transition minerals critical to achieving the green transition.

Leveraging Trade Agreements for an Inclusive Circular Economy Transition: Options under the World Trade Organization and Regional Trade Agreements

Commissioned by GIZ

Authors: Colette van der Ven, Marios Tokas

September 2023

This study analyses how trade law and policy can be leveraged to achieve an inclusive transition to a global circular economy. Specifically, it explores how, from a developing country and LDC perspective, provisions in the WTO and RTAs can facilitate a circular economy transition and/or can have a constraining impact by limiting policy space for circular economy initiatives.

EU Trade and the Environment: Development as the Missing Piece of the Triangle

Authors: Pascal Lamy, Genevieve Pons, Colette van der Ven, Claudia Azevedo

 This paper argues that the EU should acknowledge that greening its trade is affecting, and will disproportionately affect, some of its most vulnerable trading partners and re-integrate more of the development dimension in the conduct of its green trade policy. This position is not new. Yet the negative dynamics that have appeared recently deserve a strong and rapid reaction on the EU side. Designing the contours of this reaction is the purpose of this paper.

Implications for African countries of a carbon border adjustment mechanism in the EU

London School of Economics/African Climate Foundation

Authors: Faten Aggad, David Luke, Jamie Macleod, Oluwasola Omojo, Geoffroy Guepie, Rob Davies, and Colette van der Ven

May 2023

This joint report by the African Climate Foundation and the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is the first comprehensive study that focuses on the implications of CBAM on Africa. The report simulates aggregate effects and disaggregated effects of the CBAM on Africa. It raises concerns about the economic ramifications of the CBAM on Africa, as it is likely to hit the competitiveness of African exports, particularly industrial exports if product coverage expands over time. The legal analysis of the report that complements the economic analysis assesses these issues, including compatibility with Word Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

"Africa in the World Trade Organization" in How Africa Trades (LSE Press)

Authors: Colette van der Ven and David Luke

May 2023

This chapter delves into the question of how African agency at the WTO is exercised to achieve pro-development results against the backdrop of geopolitical shifts, anti-globalisation sentiments, the re-emergence of nationalism, the digital revolution and an increasingly urgent climate crisis.

"Africa in the World Trade Organization" in How Africa Trades (LSE Press)

Authors: Colette van der Ven, Pascal Lamy, Genevieve Pons, Pierre Leturcq

April 2023

This policy brief seeks to unpack key differences in the EU’s unilateral and bilateral sustainability approaches, with a focus on the objective(s) pursued, the nature of the obligations, and avenues of enforcement. Specifically, it starts with a description of the sustainability approach pursued as part of EU FTA TSD chapters and key unilateral sustainability measures, followed by a comparative overview of these two approaches, and an analysis of the implications of the differences observed with regards to ambition, legitimacy, negotiating power, and capacity building..

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