International trade agreements

International agreements have a great effect on the international market prospects for certain products. So far, only one study has addressed these impacts on producers (Iqbal, 1995). Key conventions are described below.

General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). This series of agreements aims to deregulate international trade by reducing tariffs and encouraging multilateral negotiation of trade issues. It paved the way for establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 as a more powerful organization for resolving disputes. WTO aims to provide intellectual property rights (patents, trade secrets, trademarks, etc.), and measures for enforcing these rights (see Chapter 10).

• In 1987, the Brundtland Commission called for reform of GATT for greater environmental equity and sound management, noting that the goal of unregulated international trade conflicts with national policies that would account for environmental costs of resource degradation. Some claim that "a country that internalizes environmental costs into its prices will be at a disadvantage, at least in the short term, in unregulated trade" with countries that do not (Daly and Goodland, 1994). This argues, for instance, in favour of applying import tariffs on products from countries that would price their forest resources low, in order to be capable of facing external competition.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Ratified by more than 111 nations, CITES establishes lists of endangered species for which international trade is either prohibited or strictly regulated. Examples of NWFPs which are restricted are ivory and rhino horn. Placing a species in the most restrictive categories requires approval by two-thirds of the signatories; the least restrictive categories can be made by a single signatory. Each signatory nation designates management and scientific authorities for granting and reviewing the Convention permits. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) hosts the CITES Secretariat. TRAFFIC International, a monitoring body of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and WWF, coordinates an international network to track wildlife trade and compliance with CITES, and produces a journal, TRAFFIC Bulletin.

The Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). Like WTO, TRIPs provides more enforceable protection for trade-related intellectual property rights. In this, it encourages developing countries to conduct more research and innovation, and helps better access to new technology, including environmental technology. An important provision permits a country to exclude an invention from patent protection if that invention's commercialization seriously endangers the environment.

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. This Convention obligates countries to protect endangered migratory species and precludes commercial trading of some 51 listed species, including antelopes, 24 bird species and 6 marine turtles.

It encourages species conservation and international action. UNEP provides the Secretariat (Braatz et al., 1992).


• Use market studies as a tool to identify commercial opportunities in resource utilisation and match supply to demand. Used properly, marketing tools can improve an enterprise's potential for economic and environmental sustainability.

• Develop a proper plan for marketing a product based on study of key market factors (the "Four Ps"): product, place (that is, channels of distribution and marketing), promotion and price.

• Use information on markets and transport costs to assess and decide when intermediaries (middlemen) are useful. Where an intermediary is useful (for example, in helping to absorb risk or coordinating transport), producers should use market information and group organization to prevent unfair exploitation.

• Use market information available from existing agricultural marketing systems. Where necessary, organize marketing information systems for local markets.

• International marketing requires more specialized information which is often difficult to obtain. Rural producers can reach foreign markets by joining national associations (for trade fairs, etc.) and/or green marketing ventures with international non-governmental organizations.

• Obtain information on trade regulations and the trade environment (national and international), which affect commercial options in all markets. Both producers and support service staff (extension agents and others) need familiarity with these.


ATI. 1995. Non-timber forest products manual. Draft version. Appropriate Technology International, Washington, D.C.

Braatz, S., Davis, J. Shen, S., and Rees, C. 1992. Conserving biological diversity: a strategy for protected areas in the Asia-Pacific Region. World Bank Technical Paper No. 193. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Charit Tingsabadh. 1994. Selling tree crops. Module 7 of Growing multipurpose trees on small farms. Winrock International-FAO, Bangkok.

Clay, J.W. and Clement, C.R. 1993. Selected species and strategies to enhance income gene ration from Amazonian forests. Forestry Working Paper FO: Misc/93/6. FAO, Rome.

Cubberly, P. 1995. Value chain information. ATI Bullettin 26. Appropriate Technology International, Washington, D.C.

Daly, H., and Goodland, R. 1994. An ecological-economic assessment of deregulation of international commerce under GATT. Ecological Economics 9:73-92.

Durst, P.B., Ulrich, W., and Kashio, M., eds. 1994. Non-wood forest products in Asia. RAPA Publication 1994/28. FAO-RAPA, Bangkok.

Falconer, J. 1992. Non-timber forest products in southern Ghana: a summary report. ODA Forestry Series No. 2. UK Overseas Development Authority, London.

FAO. 1995. Compendium of computer-based databases for relevance to forest products marketing. FO: Misc/94/10. Working Paper. FAO, Rome.

FAO. Forthcoming. Guidelines for the creation of community-managed marketing information systems for non-timber forest products. FAO, Rome.

Iqbal, M. 1993. International trade in non-wood forest products: an overview. Forest Products Working Paper 11. FAO, Rome.

Iqbal, M. 1995. A study of trade restrictions affecting international trade in non-wood forest products. FAO, Rome.

Issar, R. 1994. Development of market intelligence and infrastructure for agroforestry in India. In Raintree, J.B., and Francisco, H.A., eds., Marketing of multipurpose tree products in Asia: Proceedings of an international workshop held in Baguio City, Philippines, 6-9 December, 1993. Winrock International, Bangkok.

LaFleur, J. R. 1992. Marketing of Brazil nuts: a case study from Brazil. Forest Products Division, FAO, Rome.

Le Cup, I. 1994. The role of marketing of non-timber :Forest products in community development projects: Ayuverdic medicinal plants in Nepal. In Raintree, J.B., and Francisco, H.A., eds., Marketing of multipurpose tree products in Asia: Proceedings of an international workshop held in Baguio City, Philippines, 6-9 December, 1993. Winrock International, Bangkok.

Lim Hin Fui and Woon Weng Chuen. 1994. Marketing of agroforestry products: some Malaysian experience. In Raintree, J. B., and Francisco, H. A., eds., Marketing of Multipurpose Tree Products in Asia. Winrock International, Bangkok.

Lintu, L. 1995. Trade and marketing of non-wood forest products. In Report of the expert consultation on non-wood forest products, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 17-27 January 1995. Non-Wood Forest Products 3. FAO, Rome.

Ocampo, R.A. 1994. The present situation of non-timber forest products in Costa Rica. Working Document No. 7, Project for Conservation and Sustainable Development in Central America. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica.

Pswarayi-Riddihough, I., and Jones, N. 1995. Some marketing problems faced by agroforestry farmers in Asia. In Report of the expert consultation on non-wood forest products, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 17-27 January 1995. Non-Wood Forest Products 3. FAO, Rome.

Tangley, L. 1993. Marketing biodiversity products: the tagua initiative. Conservation International, Washington, D.C.

For further reading

IFPRI. Forthcoming. Proc. of a workshop on Non-Timber Tree Product (NTTP) Market Research, held December 12-14, 1994, Annapolis, Maryland, USA. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.

Lewington, A. 1993. Medicinal plants and plant extracts: a review of their importation into Europe. A TRAFFIC Network Report. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.