Barbier notes that although proportionately a high level of reduction in forestry tariffs was achieved in the Uruguay round, in nominal terms, since forestry tariffs were already low, the reductions were relatively small. Across all forest products in developed countries the average import tariff rate is to be reduced from 3.5 percent to 1.1 percent, a reduction of almost 70 percent.
The situation is relatively similar in the Asia-Pacific. Much of the trade in forestry products was already not subject to tariffs, and where substantive tariffs existed, gains have largely been in terms of achieving bindings rather than actual reductions. It is fair to say that both Barbier's technical analysis and a mere qualitative assessment of the tariff changes suggest that the gains from the Uruguay Round for the Asia-Pacific forestry sector, while valuable, are likely to be outweighed in determining trade patterns by more significant factors including processing efficiency, relative currency value changes, depletion of forest stocks and other environmental factors.
For the Asia-Pacific region specifically, given the proportion of developing as opposed to developed countries, the results of the Uruguay Round are likely to be largely neutral in any event. The narrowing of the GSP-MFN differential is likely to disadvantage exporters in some developing countries, while overall trade creation effects may offset this diversion effect. The developed country exporters in the region could be the biggest winners, though all three (Japan, Australia and New Zealand) will face increased competition in key markets.
The most likely path into the future is for a pattern of continuing tariff reductions and improved market access through the regional trade agreements, notably APEC and ASEAN. If these two organisations implement planned tariff reductions then the bulk of the region should be part of a Pacific rim free trade region by around 2020. Again, given the already high proportion of forestry trade carried out duty free the overall gains from such an outcome, while substantial in their own right, are unlikely have an enormous impact on trade patterns.
The initial focus of the WTO is on addressing the trade-environment nexus. The conflicts between trade and environmental issues were deemed too difficult for resolution under the Uruguay Round and rapid progress in this new forum in achieving any sort of settlement should certainly not be expected in anything except the very long run. Within the horizon of the Outlook study (2010) agreement on appropriate environmental protection roles for market access instruments may be the most that can be expected. Actual implementation of these roles is likely to fall outside the forecasting horizon.