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Trade and industry take a lead

Not all activity is limited to the governmental sphere. Business groups, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Standards Organization (ISO), work to enhance the positive role in policy making played by industry. NGOs continue to build partnerships, between themselves and with business groups and government organizations.

In trade, the opening up of international markets continues, with much of the action occurring at the regional level. New entities, such as the Arab Free Trade Association in West Asia, are formed, while existing unions survive and grow. A Free Trade Area of the South is initiated by an agreement between MERCOSUR and South Africa.

The role of the World Trade Organization continues to evolve. The Doha round of negotiations works to balance free trade with social and environmental considerations. It plays a special part in opening up agricultural markets by means of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and in managing the exploitation of resources in the Arctic and Antarctic, including total prohibition of trade in certain resources. It also seeks to tackle the broader issues of trade in biological and genetic resources, working in close coordination with the parties to the CBD and associated protocols.