The environment has become a central issue for the World Trade Organisation. Multilateral agreements on the environment have consequences for trade which may come into conflict with the fundamental principles of the organisation. Furthermore, international trade has repercussions on the environment, on health and human safety, on the living world, from which countries are seeking to protect themselves. This raises the question of where exactly the border between protection and protectionism lies. Research using an original database makes it possible to identify the watershed between the two. It shows that the line is often crossed. It also suggests that environmental barriers are strongly discriminatory, clearly penalising the least developed countries. An examination of the impact of environmental measures on market access has been included on the agenda of the trade round which opened in Doha. It is vital that the issues in this field be clarified if the environment is not to become an alibi for reintroducing barriers to trade which have been suppressed elsewhere.
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