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.