15-17 September 2010

WTO PUBLIC FORUM 2010

Topics for discussion

Over the past few years, the WTO Public Forum has firmly established itself as the major opportunity for relevant stakeholders to come together to discuss issues regarding the multilateral trading system. Under the title “The forces shaping world trade” this year’s forum will bring together, over 3 days, representatives from all over the world in more than 40 sessions organized by civil society organizations, business associations, chambers of commerce, labour unions, law firms, research institutions, parliamentarians, the WTO Secretariat as well as other inter-governmental organizations.

The sessions

Topics for discussion

Core themes

High level debates

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Against the backdrop of the global economic and financial crisis, and looking to the future, this year's edition will be a chance for the public to take stock of the latest developments at the global level that are having an impact on the multilateral trading system and identify steps that will contribute towards bolstering international trade flows and strengthening the WTO.

Discussions will be guided by the following four leading sub-themes:

Sub-theme I:

The WTO and the players that influence the multilateral trading system

Sub-theme II:

The economic, political and technological factors shaping world trade and the role of the rules-based multilateral trading system in contributing to the global economic recovery

Sub-theme III:

Coherence between the WTO and other areas of global economic

Sub-theme IV:

Looking to the future: What post-crisis agenda for the WTO in a shifting-power scenario?

The questions that will be dealt with in the Forum’s plenary session as well as the various sessions categorized per sub-theme are described below:

PLENARY SESSION:

The forces shaping world trade: How to use them to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and contribute to Millennium Development Goal 8: A Global Partnership for Development
Organized by: Development Division — WTO
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 10:30 — 12:30

World trade has undergone major changes since the establishment of the WTO 15 years ago. The world’s traditional powers are now sharing the spotlight with new economic actors — the fast-growing emerging economies. Meanwhile, the introduction of new technologies and better access to telecommunications, even for the world's poorest users, has changed the way global business is conducted and the way people the world over interact. New concerns have arisen over food security, climate change and energy supplies and prices, changing both how the public views trade and the nature of the multilateral rules which governments believe should apply to this changing paradigm. The effects of the recent financial crisis and its unprecedented impact on world trade have further underlined the need to address these new challenges. It is also crucial to find ways to make the forces shaping world trade work to alleviate poverty and hunger and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and especially MDG 8 — a Global Partnership for Development.

Themes and issues to be addressed in the session include: 1) the economic, political and technological factors shaping world trade and the role of business, governments and workers to ensure future global sustainable development; 2) how the forces of trade can be used to help achieve the MDGs and lead to enhanced coherence amongst global institutions, state actors and the private sector; and 3) what governments can do in the future to shape world trade rules to address food security, climate change and adequate energy supplies and to ensure global economic growth and stability.
  

SUB-THEME I: THE WTO AND THE PLAYERS THAT INFLUENCE THE MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM     back to top

Session 3: Role of non-state actors in the WTO
Organized by: CUTS International, India
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 14:00 — 16:00

Non-state actors (NSAs) have a stake in the healthy functioning of the multilateral trading system, yet they are expected to present their concerns to the WTO through their respective governments. In recent years the WTO has made efforts to better reach out to NSAs while preserving its fundamental nature as an intergovernmental organization: the WTO Public Forum is open to all participants; most WTO documents become public upon submission; and regular WTO briefings are held for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and parliamentarians. Hearings in some dispute-settlement proceedings have also been opened to the public upon agreement among the parties. Despite these developments, however, several issues regarding the effectiveness of NSA participation remain debatable.
 
To take this debate forward, there is a need to understand different ways in which different groups of NSAs try to influence the ongoing discussions at the WTO, and to discuss various opinions and suggestions in order to optimize the role of NSAs in the WTO.
 
Some questions that the panellists and discussants will endeavour to answer during this session include:

  • Does the business community think that the WTO serves its interests?

  • How successful are civil society organizations (CSOs) in influencing the WTO discussions and negotiations?

  • How crucial is the role of parliamentarians in the WTO process?

  • How do governments reconcile the interests of various NSAs with varying degrees of influence?

Session 11: Governments, non-state actors & trade policy-making: negotiating preferentially or multilaterally?
Organized by: Economic Research and Statistics Division — WTO and University of Melbourne
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
A pressing issue facing international trade relations is how to ensure compatibility between multilateral and preferential approaches to trade cooperation. This challenge has become greater with the recent rapid proliferation of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs). A good deal has been written about why governments might choose to negotiate preferentially or multilaterally, but this literature has been written almost exclusively from the perspective of governments. We know very little about how non-state actors (e.g. businesses, producer groups, trade unions, civil society organizations, think tanks, etc.) view this issue of “forum choice”, or how they position themselves to influence governments’ choices when considering whether to give preference to PTAs or to the WTO.
 
This panel presents the findings of an international, multi-country research project that has investigated this issue through case studies of trade policy-making and forum choice in eight developing countries: Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. The case studies are based on original research, including interviews with state and non-state actors involved in the trade policy-making process in the eight countries of this study.
 
Session 19: Rethinking accountability in and of the WTO
Organized by: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
Transparency and accountability are frequently joined together in WTO discourse, making the concepts hard to untangle. At one level, transparency is simply seen as a means to ensure accountability. When linked to notions of democratic participation, accountability comes to be seen as a principal-agent problem. Are delegates in Geneva accountable to their principals at home? Are participants in small group meetings accountable to the members they purport to represent?
 
Accountability and transparency are part of a western conception of administrative law. Translating these principles to the global level is not necessarily feasible or desirable in all countries. Is there a need for greater transparency and accountability at the international level? How can the WTO address issues that are likely to confront the world economy in the future, such as social standards or climate change, without spreading itself too thin or undermining support for open trade?
 
The preamble to the WTO Agreement simply says that the organization aims to promote economic prosperity and sustainable development consistent with the needs of developing countries through the reciprocal reduction of barriers to trade and the elimination of discriminatory treatment.
Should this be about accountability for the WTO’s broad contribution to sustainability, or about its accountability for what it has done in terms of specific commitments, such as avoiding protectionist responses to the financial crisis? Is it legitimate to expect international organizations to be accountable beyond the implicit and explicit obligations that members have undertaken and the tasks those members have assigned to international organizations?
 
Session 27: The role of the G20 in WTO governance
Organized by: World Trade Institute (WTI), American Society of International Law (ASIL) and International Economic Law Interest Group (IEcLIG)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
As the global geography of power has shifted from the G8 to the G20, small and vulnerable economies in Africa and Asia have been marginalized in terms of decision-making. Yet, the G20’s efficient handling of post-crisis domestic stimulus packages, as well as its coordination in the setting of various economic standards, all but pre-empted a greater role for WTO decision-making.
Although most agree that the G20 fills an institutional gap in global economic regulation, opinions diverge as to the ideal scope and depth of its authority. Some regulators have identified the G20 as a formal venue for trans-national regulatory cooperation. Others conceptualize the G20 as a global decision-making platform tasked to set the agenda for a range of economic issues, including but not limited to trade and development.
 
The extent to which the G20 should assume a formal role in WTO negotiations will depend on whether medium — to high — income countries require a negotiating forum, the risk of the G20 disrupting WTO decision-making, and whether infusing trade talks with expert input on sectoral regulation are perceived as requiring collective action.
 
This session identifies the conditions under which the G20 could best complement the WTO’s decision-making process. The discussions of the G20’s emergence as an executive coordinator of global economic regulation will be structured along three lines: first, framing the institutional-operational aspects of how the G20 plans to partner with the WTO; second, exploring the developing countries’ perspective, including how the G20 contributes to WTO legitimacy; and third, assessing whether the G20 improves trans-national regulatory policy coherence on trade and investment.

Session 30: The future of trade and the environment: Creating the WTO’s solution for trade, development and sustainable oceans
Organized by: OCEANA
Date: Friday, 17 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
This session will explore themes related to the implications of global environmental issues for the multilateral trading system and the role and responsibility of the WTO in contributing to international solutions for these challenges. Using global fisheries depletion and the WTO fisheries subsidy negotiations as a tangible example, the session will consider how global environmental challenges and issues of natural resource sustainability are shaping world trade, and how the WTO can contribute to solving global environmental problems through new approaches and trade tools.
 
This session will provide a platform for discussion of the following questions:

  • Are new considerations and approaches needed to effectively achieve the parallel negotiating objectives of trade, environmental sustainability, and development? What are the challenges and implications created by introducing a common-resource issue into the WTO negotiations?

  • How are WTO members addressing the concept of resource sustainability in the context of a trade negotiation? What are the implications of the fisheries subsidy negotiations for addressing other environmental issues through trade agreements?
  • How can the varying interests and significant differences in levels of development among WTO members, particularly among developing countries, with regard to the fishing sector be reconciled effectively?
  • What is the involvement and what are the contributions of outside organizations in the fisheries subsidy negotiations? What is the relevance of this “new participation” to future WTO negotiations?

Session 32: Greater China and the future of the multilateral trading system
Organized by: The Evian Group@IMD
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 090:00 — 11:00
 
The rules-based multilateral trading system (MTS) emerged from the Atlantic Charter signed by Churchill and Roosevelt in August 1941. It greatly contributed to peace and prosperity in the Atlantic nations, and eventually to the emergence of the Pacific trading nations. Until recently, however, the MTS (first GATT, and then the WTO) remained a fairly exclusive Western/Atlantic club, albeit with the inclusion of Japan.
 
In the 21st century, the greatest transformation in world trade for the past two hundred years or more is now taking place. China, a global recluse for an extended period, has “re-emerged” as a formidable trading power. Greater China — including the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Chinese overseas enterprises — are redesigning global trade patterns, refashioning the global supply chain, and redefining the basis of global competitiveness.
As these dynamics occur, many questions arise regarding the future of the MTS, including in terms of its governance.
 
One premise is that, while the emerging Pacific is keen to preserve the MTS, the stalling of the Doha Round, among other things, is resulting in a proliferating “noodle-bowl” of free trade agreements (FTAs) which could jeopardize the future of the MTS. There is much at stake.
This session, with a panel including experts from Peking University and University of Hong Kong and business practitioners, will discuss what is arguably the most critical issue with respect to the future of global trade and the rules-based MTS.
 
Session 40: The new geography of trade: South-south agreements, south-south asymmetries and the WTO
Organized by: Latin American Trade Network (LATN) and University of São Paulo (USP, Brazil)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
Current tensions within the WTO have a number of external and internal causes, such as the global economic and financial crises, changes in the global power balance, and the revival of north-south conflict, which mainly emerged after the Cancún Ministerial. On the one hand, leading developing countries have been increasingly expanding their roles as process drivers in the multilateral trading system. On the other, the differentiation within the group of developing countries is increasing.
In this context, it is important to discuss the ongoing south-south trade arrangements among leading developing countries. To what extent could these eventually contribute to a more balanced and equitable process of global economic development? While such arrangements may constitute a powerful tool to level the playing field in the multilateral sphere, do they help to reduce the asymmetries among southern countries?
 
This session aims to analyse recent south-south trade arrangements with the purpose of:

  • observing some trends on key development issues, such as asymmetries, and potentially important development instruments, such as the trade in services and investments. MERCOSUR agreements with other developing countries, as well as least-developed countries’ arrangements, will also be discussed; and

  • pointing out some challenges regarding the relationship between these arrangements and the multilateral trading system.

  

SUB-THEME II: THE ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL FACTORS SHAPINGWORLD TRADE AND THE ROLE OF THE RULES-BASED MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY     back to top

Lunchtime Session 2: Agricultural trade and investment rules for the 21st century
Organized by: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Quaker UN Office Geneva
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 12:30 — 14:00

The world of agriculture policy has changed fundamentally since the Doha negotiations started. Thinking about the challenges as they relate to climate change, natural resource constraints and the urgent need to curb and eradicate poverty has broken wide open since the 2007-2008 food-price crisis, leaving policy-makers, non-governmental organizations and others still trying to catch up.
 
This session will address some of these new and important debates. In particular, it will consider the role of trade and investment in agriculture, as well as the protection of local and indigenous knowledge, and where and how the world will grow and distribute enough food. Speakers will address what a trade agenda to confront these challenges would look like, whether the WTO-based multilateral trade system is adequate for the new context of agriculture policy, and what contribution the multilateral system might make.
 
Lunchtime Session 3: The role of the multilateral trading system in contributing to the global economic recovery and the future of global trade: A world business perspective
Organized by: International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 12:30 — 14:00
 
The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the rules-based multilateral trading system have a key role in contributing to the recovery from the global economic recession, and in shaping the future of global trade.

This session will address the following issues:

  • the continuing threat of protectionism in the face of persistently high unemployment, particularly in developed economies;

  • the impact of a successful conclusion of the Doha Round on the global economy;
  • the role of trade and investment in creating opportunities for developing countries; and
  • the contribution of the WTO and the rules-based multilateral trading system to dealing with the global economic imbalances and the political and economic power shifts taking place throughout the world, which are shaping the future of global trade.

Session 4: Global production chains - Transformation of international trade in the 21st century: the need for predictable and impartial rules of origin
Organized by: Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 14:00 — 16:00
 
In almost all sectors of the global economy — be they textiles, automobiles, electronics, information technology, chemicals, leather products, health or food items — global production chains have come to dominate international manufacturing, using materials and components produced in various stages and in different countries. These chains have helped both least-developed countries (LDCs) and developing countries (DCs) to secure substantial gains in international trade. However, there are no harmonized rules of origin for non-preferential products. Existing rules based on where “the last substantial transformation” takes place are inadequate, and there has been no real progress in the harmonization work programme on non-preferential rules of origin.
 
The main objective of this session is to discuss how the WTO and its major players can strengthen production chains in the multilateral trading system by addressing this complex area of global trade. Not only would harmonized rules of origin help all WTO members, but such harmonization would cement the rules-based trading system by providing a predictable playing field for LDCs and DCs.
Panellists will include representatives from a preference-granting country, an LDC, a non-LDC developing country, and an international financial institution, and will consider the way forward by addressing questions such as: What is the time-frame required to complete the work on rules of origin? What needs to be done in the immediate short term to help LDCs and DCs? How can these countries come to grips with the challenges posed by complex rules of origin in order to establish a more predictable playing field?
 
Session 8: Doing it differently: Reshaping the global economy
Organized by: WTO Gender Network
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 10:00 — 12:00
 
While the fields of health and education have long acknowledged that addressing gender issues is an efficient way to address poverty, the potential impacts of addressing gender-specific constraints in the area of trade are less well understood. Against the backdrop of the global economic and financial crisis, and looking to the future, this panel will discuss the role of women and girls in enhancing economic productivity and sustained economic growth. The panel will invite participants to take stock of the latest developments at the global level to empower women and to identify steps that will contribute towards strengthening investment in women and girls, with an emphasis on supporting their integration into markets. In addition, the panel will look at the different actors that influence the trade and gender agenda, assess the factors shaping efforts to increase action and investment in this area, and brainstorm on the way forward.
Discussions will be guided by the following main questions:

  • What are the links between gender, development, and trade?

  • What are the economic, political and technical factors that influence women's economic opportunities?
  • How can multilateral institutions and funding agencies encourage enabling conditions for women's economic empowerment? and
  • What are the priorities for action going forward?

Session 10: Africa’s benefits and challenges to regional and international trade
Organized by: Commonwealth Secretariat
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
Even before the recent global economic crisis, the performance of African countries in international trade has been dismal, with their share of world exports standing at only about 3 per cent. Though trade and investment flows have been increasing between Africa and other emerging economies, the expansion of African trade still faces challenges arising from inadequate trade-support infrastructures and institutions, as well as from trade barriers to intra-regional trade.

The extent to which Africa is benefiting from the multilateral system and the ways in which it might secure greater benefits need to be understood more fully. A critical review of the factors shaping Africa’s trade prospects would be helpful, with a view to identifying measures that would help Africa face its challenges and enhance its benefits from international trade.
 
This session will focus on the support necessary to help Africa overcome its trade development challenges and enhance the beneficial outcomes of its engagement with emerging economies. The following specific issues will be addressed: the current state of Africa’s trade with other developing countries; the potential for Africa’s relations with emerging economies to contribute to its trade-led development; identification of the key impediments to sustainable growth in Africa’s investment inflows; the impact on African trade of expanded trade relations with emerging economies; how the multilateral trading system can help Africa benefit from its increased engagement with emerging economies; and the instruments that can be devised for improving Africa’s access to foreign markets.

Session 25: Much ado about what? Do preferential agreements create trade?
Organized by: World Trade Institute (WTI), University of Bern
Date: Friday, 17 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
Much recent writing on preferential trade agreements (PTAs) has focused on the qualitative dimensions of competing rule-making architectures. This session aims to share and critically discuss recent and ongoing empirical research on the net trade effects of preferential liberalization, comparing the effects observed in goods trade with those observed in services, and examining the forces that distinguish both the magnitude and the nature of observed causalities. The session will also ascertain whether the greater depth of liberalization achieved in some PTAs, by lessening transaction costs and facilitating supply-chain linkages within regional production networks, may have contributed to a speedier recovery in world trade activity following the recent economic crisis.
 
Key questions the panel will address include the following:

  • What are the main determinants of trade under preferential agreements?

  • What are the magnitudes of trade effects by type and form of PTA?
  • How complementary are goods and services trade and goods and services agreements?
  • Does PTA membership significantly enhance trade performance?
  • How and to what extent do PTAs and patterns of vertical specialization influence each other?

  • To what extent and in what manner has PTA membership contributed to facilitating the recent recovery in world trade and investment activity?

Session 35: Biofuel subsidies and standards: WTO considerations
Organized by: International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 14:15 — 16:15
 
The objective of this session is to examine which WTO rules are relevant for support to the biofuel sector (mainly via mandates and subsidies) and for sustainability standards (in particular those incorporating lifecycle analyses) for biofuels, and to stimulate debate and further thinking. The session will be used as the European launch of IPC’s paper “Biofuel and Biomass Subsidies: Towards a Transparent System of Notification”.
 
The following questions will be addressed during this session:

  • On the question of subsidies, questions to be asked will include: How are subsidies to the three key biofuel producers (Brazil, the United States and the European Union) being notified to the WTO? Can biofuel subsidies be considered agricultural subsidies, therefore falling under the Agreement on Agriculture’s domestic support pillar? How does the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Producer Support Estimate approach biofuel support? How can open questions on notification be clarified in order to allow greater transparency on levels of subsidies?

  • On the issue of sustainability standards, questions to be pursued will include: What trade issues are raised by the incorporation of lifecycle analyses in sustainability standards? Do these issues differ as a result of their effect on decisions of whether to import certain types of biofuels, whether to count certain biofuels towards fulfilling a government mandate, or whether to grant subsidies to blenders using these biofuels?

Session 37: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa: Should service linkages be expanded?
Organized by: Trade in Services Division — WTO
Date: Friday, 17 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
The role of infrastructural services (electricity distribution, drinkable water distribution, road transport, telecommunications, financial services, etc.) in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is as obvious as it is important. At a time of heightened concern over Africa’s ability to achieve the MDGs, as well as increased pressure on donor finances, this session will explore options to further increase Africa’s access to infrastructural services.
Achievement of the MDGs is not only directly dependent on services such as education and health, but also relies heavily on improvements in infrastructural services. For example, better road transport is crucial in ensuring that rural farmers get their products to market, while access to electricity, telecommunications and financial services plays a vital role in ensuring the success of micro-enterprises.
 
Although African governments are making great efforts to improve the availability and quality of infrastructural services, resources are limited. Even lending from multilateral development institutions and donor assistance is unable to close the current “infrastructure gap”. Nearly all African states have policies to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), but far more FDI is currently devoted to natural resource extraction than to the infrastructural services needed to achieve the MDGs.
The objective of this session is to examine how access to MDG-related infrastructural services can be accelerated, including possible expanded roles for the WTO.
 
Session 39: The role of trade in fostering a recovery that is supportive of employment
Organized by: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
International trade is an essential source of growth, development and, ultimately, well-being. Open economies achieve higher levels of economic growth, contribute to net job creation, help to raise real wages, and ensure lower prices and a wider choice of products and services. An increase in the share of trade in gross domestic product (GDP) of one percentage point raises income levels by between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.
 
Keeping markets open and world trade flowing during the recovery phase is crucial. While world leaders have shown resolve in meeting these objectives, fears of protectionism, due to unprecedented levels of unemployment, persist. A genuine trade deal that provides for new market opportunities on the basis of comparative advantage, and that would support growth and the creation of decent employment in both industrialized and developing countries, is urgently needed.
 
How can public understanding of the role of trade in job creation and as a driver of development be improved, so that political leaders do not view protectionism as an answer to concerns about unemployment? How can civil society and private-sector actors work together with governments and international organizations to ensure that open markets for trade and investment create the conditions most likely to lead to a job-rich recovery? How can governments soften the burden on workers who have been displaced due to trade-induced structural change and facilitate their integration into competitive industries?

  

SUB-THEME III: COHERENCE BETWEEN THE WTO AND OTHER AREAS OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE     back to top

Session 1: Sustainable energy use and trade
Organized by: Trade and Environment Division — WTO and World Energy Council
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 14:00 — 16:00
  
Recent increases in energy demand, growing energy insecurity and government commitments to tackle climate change have all intensified the need to find ways to use energy in a sustainable manner. The latest developments in energy use and demand will have an impact on trade. The purpose of this session is to explore the linkages between trade and sustainable use of energy.
 
The session will begin with presentations on the latest trends in energy demand and on the current work being undertaken by international institutions — for instance, the International Energy Agency (IEA) work on energy efficiency; and the joint IEA, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and World Bank report on energy subsidies, which was submitted to the Toronto G20 Summit meeting in June 2010; and the work of the World Energy Council. In the second part, there will be a panel debate focusing on issues related to trade and the role of trade in improving the sustainable use of energy.
 
Session 5: From trade-related aspects of intellectual property (IP), to IP-related aspects of trade? Locating the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement in today’s global trade system
Organized by: Intellectual Property Division — WTO
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 16:15 — 18:15
 
This session will review the interplay between the intellectual property (IP) system and the global trade regime. It will explore how to use the tools of economic analysis to understand the IP dimension of international trade and development. Focusing on real-world experiences in current areas of policy debate, it will seek to lay the groundwork for a more systematic account of the third pillar of the trade rules package that constitutes the legal and policy framework of the WTO.
 
First, the session will set out the current theoretical framework for situating the IP system within the international trading environment. It will consider the impact of emerging knowledge-economy players — such as the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) — as skilled and strategic users of the IP system when negotiating the terms of trade in the knowledge economy and leveraging knowledge as a tool for development.
 
Second, the session will explore the systemic impact of changes in business patterns relying on the IP system, in particular for new players in international trade. In order to strengthen the empirical and theoretical basis of policy discussions, the session will consider the example of the impact of geographical indications on global trade flows.
 
Third, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has sparked a series of debates about the coherence of trade rules with other areas of global governance. Indeed, coherence of the IP rules of TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity is at the cutting edge of this debate, and this session will review this subject in its full international policy context, with a focus on the particular insights that economic analysis tools can provide for policy-makers.
 
Session 6: How do the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) rules relate to countries’ post-crisis financial regulatory policies?
Organized by: Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS)
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 16:15 — 18:15
 
In the wake of the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression, there is a widespread consensus that better financial services regulation is needed. Yet there are substantial discussions about how certain regulatory proposals — either in the G20 context or nationally — interact with WTO members’ financial services commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and whether pre-crisis Doha Round proposals and agendas touching on financial services require alteration.
This session is intended to review the questions and views emerging among governmental and non-governmental actors and among trade and finance experts about the interaction between various domestic and international financial regulatory regimes and WTO rules related to financial services. The session will consider how current and proposed WTO rules would affect the ability of the WTO to work in concert with other international actors struggling to ensure global financial stability.
 
Panellists will explore the some of the following questions:

  • What is the connection between WTO rules relating to financial services and the current international and national regulatory reform proposals, such as financial transaction taxes, capital controls, limitations on high-risk products and speculative practices, and “too big to fail” prevention policies?

  • Are there changes to existing WTO rules or to the Doha Round Agenda that would increase financial stability and foster necessary financial regulatory improvements?
  • Does the prudential defence provision provided in the GATS Financial Service Annex 2(a) provide a reliable safeguard to preserve WTO member states’ policy space for effective regulation of financial services?
  • How might further WTO financial services commitments, including those described in the pre-crisis plurilateral request on financial services, affect developing countries?

Session 7: Beyond border carbon adjustment measures: standards, labelling and the issue of emission allowances
Organized by: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
and Swedish National Board of Trade
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 16:15 — 18:15
 
In the absence of an international climate change agreement with binding reduction commitments for carbon emissions, countries are increasingly taking unilateral action to address the threat of climate change. One measure that has received a substantial amount of attention in the political debate is border carbon adjustment measures. However, other measures and tools are more likely to be implemented on a broader scale in the more immediate future, some of which are already fully functioning.
 
This session will look into two of these measures. First, public or private standards and climate labels: what are the existing and upcoming standards in the field of climate change, and what opportunities and challenges are associated with their proliferation? Second, the issue of emission allowances: distributing emission allowances without charge to heavily polluting industries is currently the primary tool for handling competitiveness concerns related to climate change. Although less controversial than border measures, there is a risk that these measures may also have trade implications. Both of these measures will be discussed, with a particular emphasis on their possible impact on sustainable development.
 
The session will be inclusive and allow for discussion among all participants. The aim is for the session to be generative for all parties, i.e. to help panellists, organizers and other participants develop their thinking on these issues, thereby helping to advance research and better inform policy-making.
 
Session 12: Policy coherence between trade, global food security and poverty reduction goals
Organized by: International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP)
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
For farmers, coherence among the policy decisions taken in the United Nations System, the Bretton Woods System — including the WTO — and the G8/G20 summits is critical to the world’s ability to achieve global food security and sustainable development. Trade rules are important in achieving global economic development, including increased food security and reduced poverty. However, food security cannot be achieved if trade rules dominate the legal decisions and treaties made within the United Nations and other global forums. The current balance leaves developing countries in a fragile situation. Laws aimed at promoting food security, managing food supplies and encouraging local food production can sometimes be conceived as contrary to trade rules and may then be challenged under the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism. Yet, according to Article 103 of the UN Charter, “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.”
 
This session seeks to help the WTO promote coherence at the international level to achieve global food security and reduce poverty. It will address the following questions:

  • What agricultural support systems would put farmers in a position to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability, while maintaining an open trading system?

  • How can the WTO trading system incorporate the conventions of United Nations organizations and treaty bodies to achieve food-security and poverty-reduction goals?
  • How can the G8 and G20 summits better contribute to global policy coherence while promoting the growth of a more equitable world trading system?

Session 13: Multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the WTO
Organized by: Environment and Trade in a World of Interdependence (Entwined)
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
This session will examine the position of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in the WTO legal order and seek to advance current thinking on the issue. A natural starting point is to consider the WTO law on MEAs. There is no explicit legislation concerning the relationship between MEAs and the WTO, but there is some (albeit meagre) case law to be taken into account. A second relevant angle from which to approach the issue is to examine WTO law dealing with other inter se agreements (agreements between a subset of WTO members). For instance, the various WTO agreements set out conditions for preferential trading agreements, mutual recognition agreements, and plurilateral agreements. A fourth form of agreement — sector-specific agreements — has emerged in practice. An examination of the conditions under which such inter se agreements are accepted in WTO law could shed light on the appropriate legal treatment of MEAs in the WTO. The session will also take a broader view, and consider the fundamental question of why separate MEAs are concluded, that is, why does the WTO contract not include concerns which come under the aegis of MEAs? The panel will highlight the appropriate role of MEAs in the WTO as seen from each of these perspectives.
 
Session 15: Small farmers and global food-security governance: waiting for coherence
Organized by: Oxfam International
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 14:15 — 16:15
 
Governments are legally bound to ensure the right to food for all. Nevertheless, today there are one billion hungry people in the world, and millions more are food-insecure. There is a need to develop a global food-security governance system that bridges the divide between the conflicting visions and interests of various stakeholders.
 
The world food system — consisting of the actors dealing with food production, transformation and trade, as well as the national and international rules and policies that set the framework for their actions — is not functioning in a way that provides food for all.

At local, national and global levels, the right polices and institutions are not yet in place. In any poor countries, mechanisms for regulating food markets and promoting agriculture investment were scrapped under the “structural adjustment programmes”, meaning less support for small farmers and more instability in agricultural markets. At the global level, rules are still rigged against the poor and vulnerable.
 
Oxfam’s session intends to answer the following questions:

  • Is it possible to provide an enabling international environment for the promotion and protection of the right to adequate food?

  • How can we develop effective and coherent global policies and regulations to address the trans-boundary causes of food insecurity?
  • How can we ensure the provision of coordinated policy, technical and financial assistance in support of regional - and country-led processes?

Session 18: Regionalism’s role in integrating the Pacific into the global trading system
Organized by: Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 14:15 — 16:15
 
Following decisions taken by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in August 2009, negotiations are under way towards achieving a comprehensive, reciprocal regional agreement covering the Pacific islands region — commonly known as PACER Plus (Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations) — to deepen trade and economic cooperation between the Pacific island countries (PICs) and Australia and New Zealand. PACER Plus builds on previous trade agreements within the Pacific region (South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA), Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), etc). These, and several other recently concluded bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements in the wider region (such as the ASEAN—Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia and New Zealand) may also have significant implications for the possible shape and content of a future PACER Plus agreement.
 
This session will discuss the aims of PACER Plus to assist the long-term economic development of the PICs through closer integration with two neighbouring developed countries, as well as the implications of their integration into the global economy, and reinforcing existing WTO disciplines with potential added value. The session will include expert speakers from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the University of Adelaide’s Institute for International Trade (IIT), and the Australian Ambassador in Geneva, Mr Tim Yeend.
 
Session 20: WTO rules and public health in developing countries: the “Achilles’ heel” or A pillar for development?
Organized by: Institute of Economic Affairs
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
Most developing countries (DCs) have set public health development goals which are in line with the Millennium Development Goals. The achievement of these goals, however, has remained elusive for DCs and least-developed countries in Africa. Achievement of any development goals requires proper policy coordination: in other words, the laws must be cohesive and the implementing institutions must develop synergies for optimal results. Most African countries that face challenges in achieving their public health development goals are also members of the WTO. In the context of the current Doha Negotiations, development forms the core of the WTO’s agenda. This session will examine the WTO trading rules and how these impact on public health development goals in African countries.
The main objectives of this session are:

  • to establish the general public health development goals and initiatives of DCs in Africa;

  • to establish the coherence/challenges of the WTO rules with regard to public health development goals;
  • to examine coordination initiatives between the WTO and other intergovernmental organizations involved in the public health arena;
  • to provide recommendations on areas for synergy.

Questions to be answered during this session are:

  • Has the WTO’s role contributed to achieving the public health goals of DCs in Africa?

  • What coherences or contradictions are there between the WTO and public health development goals in African countries?
  • Are there coordination initiatives between the WTO and other intergovernmental organizations involved in public health for achieving better public health?

Session 22: Social standards and human rights clauses in trade agreements — window-dressing, hidden protectionism or furthering the cause?
Organized by: FES Geneva and 3D Trade — Human Rights — Equitable Economy
Date: Friday, 17 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
Trade agreements have the potential to support or violate human rights and to contribute to or harm sustainable development. For trade to become a means to an end in sustainable human development, it must be supportive of, not contradictory to, claims concerning the social dimension of globalization and respect for human rights.
 
This session will portray current trends regarding the use of social standards and human rights clauses in trade agreements and will argue, from a human rights perspective, that coherence in international law is not only desirable but an actual obligation of states. The panellists will also debate whether the trend to include social and human rights aspects in bilateral agreements is outrunning or anticipating global agreements. The panel will strengthen members’ considerations of mainstreaming social and human rights standards and conducting human rights impact assessments in the framework of the WTO, ultimately giving meaning to the WTO preamble of “raising standards of living, ensuring full employment” and the “objective of sustainable development” as the purposes of the organization.
 
Questions to be discussed include:

  • What are the trends in trade agreements regarding the inclusion of social and human rights standards (SHS)?

  • From where does the inclusion of SHS in trade agreements draw its legitimacy?
  • What impact does this have on global negotiations?
  • What are the merits of including SHS? What are the dangers of including SHS? How to avoid “hidden agendas”?

  • Why is it necessary to include SHS in a global trade agreement?
  • How should model agreements be formulated?

Session 23: Key issues in trade, development and climate change
Organized by: Third World Network
Date: Friday, 17 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
There are a number of developments occurring outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) that are shaping world trade. This session will provide an opportunity to update those involved with the WTO on the way these developments can impact on the WTO and its work and, in particular, on whether the disciplines being negotiated in regional and bilateral trade agreements, climate change and intellectual property enforcement are compatible with WTO obligations and safeguards.
 
Speakers will investigate:

  • whether bilateral and regional trade agreements being negotiated between developed and developing countries would undermine the special and differential treatment and flexibilities that developing countries have obtained at the WTO;

  • whether trade agreements can offer a way to enforce climate-change measures;
  • whether trade agreements may be an obstacle to the measures needed to deal with climate change; and
  • whether the additional intellectual property (IP) enforcement obligations being negotiated in a number of fora (including the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) undermine existing flexibilities and safeguards in the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, even for countries which are not party to these IP-enforcement agreements. The effect of these provisions on generic medicine manufacturers, importers, exporters and consumers, for example, will also be examined.

Finally, the implications for developing countries of the above-mentioned issues and the current proposals in the Doha Work Programme will also be addressed.
 
Session 24: What kind of trade policy framework is needed to support food-security goals?
Organized by: Agriculture and Commodities Division — WTO and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
Food insecurity and malnutrition have remained persistent challenges in many developing countries, and have been exacerbated by the recent global economic downturn and large swings in international food prices.
 
This session seeks to explore the extent to which trade policy-makers and negotiators may be able to use concrete options to mitigate the impacts of short-term disruptions and enhance food security in the long term. The session will explore how trade-policy reform and official development aid can encourage public and private investment in developing-country agriculture in order to enhance productivity and ensure that freer trade actually benefits the poor.
 
The session will also provide an opportunity to examine and discuss the extent to which there is scope to address food-security concerns under the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations, and in domestic policy-making. Finally, participants will discuss the potential synergies and conflicts among trade, aid and investment policies.
 
Session 29: Trade, the environment, and 9 billion hungry people: Coordinating the efforts of the WTO and other international organizations to ensure food security and to mitigate the impact of climate change
Organized by: CropLife International
Date: Friday, 17 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
This session will examine the challenge of ensuring coordination between the rules and negotiations of the WTO and those of other international organizations, and these rules' potential impact on efforts to ensure food security and to mitigate the impact of climate change. The panel of experts will describe some of the outcomes of past agreements which have impacted trade flows in ways unintended at the time of drafting.
 
WTO rules are directly relevant to the negotiation of international agreements relating to issues such as biological diversity, climate change, and food security. There is often a significant overlap between agreements pertaining to these issues and WTO rules. Such overlap is evident, for instance, in the various negotiations on issues covered by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The expertise of the WTO is an invaluable resource for officials negotiating trade-related rules in other international fora, e.g. in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
 
However, unlike the corresponding WTO rules, recent proposals in other international fora have often not fully considered the impact on trade flow, food security and the incentive to develop new technologies. In fact, many of the proposals have or could potentially have serious repercussions for trade and established WTO rules. Without proactive involvement from trade experts and other stakeholders in these fora, conflicting directives could weaken the free-trade system the WTO regime has fostered. The success of international agreements relies on creating rules that are based on a full understanding of the possible outcomes, and constructive efforts by the WTO and other stakeholders are called for to prevent or mitigate negative impacts on important trade issues, including sustainable development, food security, and climate change.
 
Session 33: Coherence and incoherence OF the international trade regime: Who profits from it? Can we change it in any way? How?
Organized by: International Law Association, Canadian Branch
Date: Friday, 17 September, 14:15 16:15
 
The forces governing world trade are not confined to the WTO. To maintain its pace and its legitimacy and to ensure the opening up of markets, the international trade regime has to find ways to enhance its capacity to take account of human rights and the rights of migrants, labour and environmental law, and the redistribution of benefits.
 
This session will seek to identify and comment on various practical ways to ensure the coherence and development of the trade regime. We shall be identifying which of the international rules currently in force in the area of human rights, the rights of migrants, and labour and environmental law should be taken into account in international trade.
 
We shall be addressing, in particular, ways to improve the development and linkage of these rules with WTO law and/or to ensure that they are reflected in the rights and obligations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), as well as the coordination in certain sectors codification mechanisms between international institutions and at the State level.
 
There is also the question of recourse to judicial and administrative mechanisms and the impact studies conducted in certain sectors, for example in the environmental, social and economic areas. How can these studies be improved and extended to other sectors? Who is best placed to conduct these studies: the government authorities, the international institutions and or private entities? These are some of the questions and solutions that could help to improve coherence.
 
Session 34: Seeking Coherence: How can international agreements influence agriculture and world trade positively for the coming generation in the face of global trends?
Organized by: The Federation of Norwegian Agricultural Co-operatives and Norwegian Farmers Union; JA Zenchu (Japan); Copa-Cogeca (European Union); Canadian dairy, poultry and egg producers; UPA — Union des Producteurs agricoles du Quebec; ROPPA - Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs agricoles de l’Afrique de l’Ouest; Nation Farmers Union (US); EAFF — Eastern African Farmers Federation; Schweizerischer Bauernverband (Switzerland)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 14:15 — 16:15

This session aims to provide the necessary background to the global agricultural and societal challenges of the 21st century, and, more specifically, to the need for coherence between what is happening at the WTO and the objectives — including those on climate change — pursued in other international fora. Speakers and panellists will provide their views on the adjustments that are needed in order to bring future agricultural-product trading systems into line with other multilateral goals.
Relevant questions to be addressed:

  • How do the Doha negotiations deal with other multilateral agreements and discussions?

  • How can the challenges of climate change and fossil fuels be reflected in the future trade agreement?
  • How to safeguard food security and rural development while increasing trade in North-South relations?

Rising world demand for agricultural produce, increasing price volatility and climate-change challenges have made it more important than ever to enable governments to provide their citizens with food stability and to encourage sustainable agricultural production which both contributes to combating climate change and meets the needs of rural communities. This is why coherence between the WTO and other areas of global governance has become a burning question, particularly given the multiples crises which have hit the world economy.
 
Agriculture is in the frontline of many of the world’s challenges and is an important pillar in the trade talks in the WTO. If we are to cope with the global challenges and integrate the developing countries in a world economy, it is paramount to strengthen and develop the rural communities.
 
Session 38: The (elusive?) quest for coherence in global negotiations and norms: the case of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Organized by: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
The long-standing debate on the relationship between the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has received renewed attention as CBD negotiations for a future international regime on “Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits from Their Use” (ABS) gain momentum on the road to the Nagoya Conference of Parties in October 2010. At the same time, the Inter-governmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions at WIPO is engaged — under a new 2009 mandate — in “text-based negotiations with the objective of reaching agreement on a text of an international legal instrument (or instruments)”.
 
In this regard, policy-makers, negotiators and interested stakeholders are struggling to ensure greater “coherence” and “mutual supportiveness” between the trade, intellectual property and biodiversity regimes within their respective objectives, their possibly conflicting rules, and their applicable principles. How can this coherence be achieved? What does “mutual supportiveness” concretely mean? Which responses can be provided by the international system, particularly WTO law and jurisprudence?
 
These are some of the main questions that the panel of this session will seek to address, looking at possible options for avoiding conflict between the WTO and multilateral environment agreements — and specifically between TRIPS, the future international ABS regime and the possible outcome of the WIPO negotiations.

  

SUB-THEME IV: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: WHAT POST-CRISIS AGENDA FOR THE WTO IN A SHIFTING-POWER SCENARIO?     back to top

Lunchtime Session 1: Open and rule based global markets: The role of government procurement and the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)
Organized by: BUSINESSEUROPE, the Confederation of European Business, and BDI, the Federation of German Industries
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 12:30 — 14:00
 
Governments are significant purchasers of goods and services and important drivers of international trade. For example, the value of the European Union public procurement that is potentially open to international trade is estimated at USD 2,083 billion — the equivalent of 7.1 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), or 30.1 per cent of world exports. In 1994, 19 WTO member states signed a Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) which established a set of rules governing the procurement activities of its parties. However, government procurement is often described as the largest sector sheltered from multilateral trade rules — being excluded from both the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
Although the GPA covers the biggest procurement markets, its value for companies is limited due to the large number of derogations and exceptions and the absence of major emerging countries. Barriers to participation in international public procurement markets are significant for key business sectors, such as energy, water treatment, healthcare, construction and transport.
 
This session will discuss the role the WTO should play in order to ensure that member states retain and promote open procurement markets in general, and particularly in times of economic crisis. The session’s overall aim is to determine whether WTO government procurement rules are effectively guaranteeing the openness of procurement markets around the world. Given that a number of attempts have been made to close these markets, the role of the WTO is very important in countering those policies. The discussions are intended to give some indication of the WTO’s future role in this field and will explore possibilities within and without the framework of the Government Procurement Agreement.
 
Session 2: The right to development — a tool to boost coherence between trade, development and human rights?
Organized by: 3D  Trade — Human Rights — Equitable Economy (3D) and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Date: Wednesday, 15 September, 14:00 — 16:00
 
Today, issues arising from WTO law and practice cannot be discussed without referring to their “development dimension”, bearing in mind that developing countries, countries with economies in transition and least developed countries make up two-thirds of the WTO membership. This session will discuss whether the right to development could provide normative guidance in formulating trade policies, contribute to a fairer and more equitable multilateral trading system and help to “walk the talk” of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
 
The right to development was proclaimed in the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development, reiterated in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. This right is unique, as it encompasses civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. More importantly, it addresses both the national and the international dimensions of development, requiring an enabling global environment and international cooperation for development. Given that trade is an important component of development policy, the right to development is of relevance to the WTO. It could also add value to a development-oriented conclusion of the DDA.
 
Questions to be discussed include:

  • Where does the right to development draw its legitimacy from? Why is it relevant in the WTO context?

  • What is the added value of a right to development approach to the multilateral trading system?
  • In what ways can trade contribute to bringing about the right to development?
  • How can the right to development framework foster coherence in policy and practice between the WTO, the UN agencies and the international financial institutions?

Session 9: Coherence and crisis: Decent work, the WTO and better world governance
Organized by: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 14:15 — 16:15
 
This session aims to explore ways to increase coherence between the work of the WTO and that of other international organizations — which together constitute a major element of the global governance structure — in order to jointly promote decent work, mitigate the effects of the financial crisis, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The session aims to address the following questions:
Coherence

  • Is there space for ILO-WTO dialogue and cooperation in promoting common goals?

  • Is the work of ILO and the WTO in certain fields complementary?
  • How might the WTO increase the coherence of its own work with that of the inter-governmental organizations of the UN system in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?

Decent work and free trade

  • Could the promotion of decent work create fairer trade and better distribute the benefits of globalization?

  • Is there any likelihood that the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda might create trade barriers, and, if so, for what reasons?
  • What are the circumstances under which trade impacts negatively on the promotion of decent work?

Practical dimensions

  • How might decent work be included in the multilateral negotiation system and the committee structures of the WTO?

  • Under what conditions can trade contribute towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals?

Session 14: Prospects and challenges for the liberalization of trade in services in the WTO in the wake of the financial crisis and in a post-crisis scenario
Organized by: Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), and Tufts University, USA
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
In this session, experts will examine the extent to which the global financial crisis has impacted on trade and on the development prospects of developing countries. Panellists will address different aspects of the crisis, from financial and environmental services to agriculture, and will discuss different categories of countries, from least-developed countries (LDCs) to agricultural exporting countries. Panellists will also explore developing-country policy responses to the crisis and the extent to which such measures are permitted or discouraged under the disciplines of the WTO and other trading arrangements.
 
LDCs are heavily exposed to external shocks because of their extensive trade with the rest of the world. Yet they are marginalized in terms of their share in international trade and output. They suffer from structural weaknesses and chronic balance-of-payment and fiscal deficits, and they are heavily dependent on commodity exports and external financing. This session will examine the long-term industrial and development strategies of LDCs in the wake of the crisis. The issue of global financial re-regulation and its relationship to global governance of international trade will also be addressed.
Finally, panellists will examine the emerging disciplines for agricultural trade liberalization within the Doha negotiations in the wake of the food-price crisis. Is agricultural dumping a thing of the past? What measures are needed to ensure that developing countries can address extreme price volatility, particularly in key food sectors?
 
Session 16: Beyond the Doha Round? Shaping the global trading system to encourage innovation and solve global challenges
Organized by: National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and Winston & Strawn LLP
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 14:15 — 16:15
 
Emerging global challenges, such as addressing the threat of climate change, accessing high-quality, affordable healthcare, and ensuring food and consumer-product safety and security through the global supply chain, are increasingly influencing public discussions on national and international trade rules and norms, yet they are not being adequately addressed in the current round of global trade talks.
 
In this session, panellists from NFTC and Winston & Strawn and colleagues from business, government and development communities will address issues that are largely absent from the current Doha Round talks, such as the future of the intellectual property rights system, what the WTO can do to encourage global research collaboration and technology sharing, and how to develop flexible rules to enable the lowest-cost solutions for emerging innovative sectors.
 
Relevant questions to be addressed include: What issues or rules — beyond those already under discussion in the Doha Round — should the WTO focus on in order to make sure the global trading system is flexible and responsive to 21st century global supply chains and increasingly global models of research and development? Is there a greater role for the WTO to play right now to drive innovative solutions to global challenges? Is the multilateral system in danger of being left behind as member economies strive to solve new concerns in other international forums? This session is aimed at heightening awareness of many of the forces shaping the future of world trade and underlining the necessity of concluding the Doha negotiations expeditiously.
 
Session 26: A pathway to recovery — a case for further development of the multilateral trading system?
Organized by: European Commission
Date: Friday, 17 September, 09:00 — 11:00
 
The benefits of a rules-based multilateral trading system were clearly demonstrated during the financial and economic crisis; thanks to proper observation of WTO disciplines and peer pressure among WTO members, borders remained open. However, WTO members need to address significant gaps in the existing rules that have been exposed by the financial and economic crisis.
Existing disciplines on issues such as government procurement and sectoral subsidies have proved inadequate to address the challenges that face economic operators. Commentators have also encouraged the membership to tackle trade policy issues, such as trade and climate change, which affect the interests of all WTO members.
 
The WTO has a responsibility not only to learn from the past, but also to investigate future challenges. WTO members need to ensure that multilateral trade rules contribute to a sustainable recovery of the global economy.
 
This session will explore what steps — beyond traditional market access negotiations —governments and the WTO can take towards reviving international trade flows.
Questions for discussion include:

  • How can WTO members address emerging or more forward-looking “modern” trade policy issues?

  • Should global rules to fill gaps in areas such as competition, government procurement, investment and climate change be pursued as priority issues for decision and implementation? What basic principles should such rules cover?
  • Is it advisable to take some of these issues forward on the basis of a “variable geometry” or “critical mass” approach?
  • How can the WTO support efforts for global rebalancing? Can the WTO develop its capacity to address trade policies from a more horizontal / holistic perspective?

Session 31: Campaign for participation and representation of women’s issues in trade: Strengthening responses to create wealth and reduce poverty for women in informal cross-border trade in southern Africa
Organized by: Regional Export Promotion Trust Zimbabwe
Date: Friday, 17 September, 11:15 — 13:15
 
In southern Africa, women remain the daily managers and users of natural resources. They are involved in the major decisions that govern these resources and the environment. In politics and decision-making, however, women are mobilized in large numbers to vote, yet remain absent in decision-making positions in both the public and private sectors. Women remain concentrated in the feminized professions such as teaching, nursing, secretarial work, etc., and at best hold middle management positions. It is important to understand the factors underlying this gender paralysis in trade development so that appropriate strategies can be designed and implemented. Enhanced participation and representation of “women-in-trade” issues in trade policy negotiations are called for in order to bridge the gap between policy formulation and implementation. This will enable women to influence fair trade, establish simplified trade regime frameworks, and protect women’s rights in trade and employment.
 
This session will cover:

  • Representation of women in government trade negotiation delegations so they can influence negotiation outcomes.

  • Access to markets for women traders, particularly in small-scale agriculture and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • Issues of subsidies and excessive protectionism for small-scale farmers in Europe at the expense of developing countries.
  • Social dumping and economic justice.
  • Labour standards and trade.
  • Mainstreaming intellectual property rights for women’s arts and crafts and herbal-garden produce.
  • The importance of mainstreaming gender on trade, and alternatives for sustainable trade development.

From a gender perspective, this session will discuss how these trends cause and deepen the feminization of poverty in Africa, so that policy-makers and decision-makers can take this paradigm into consideration and come up with gender-sensitive economic alternatives for sustainable development in Africa.
 
Session 36: Antidumping regime: a view from the competition policy perspective
Organized by: Federal Competition Commission, Mexico (CFC)
Date: Thursday, 16 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
The objective of trade policy is to promote market efficiency through free trade and market liberalization. Free trade means, among other things, the introduction of international competition into domestic markets, resulting in better consumer welfare and a more efficient allocation of resources. Competition policy pursues the same objectives and is designed to ensure that companies do not limit the benefits of market liberalization through anticompetitive behavior. For this reason, complementarities between these two policies have been discussed by both academics and policy-makers. A question that naturally arose during this debate was to what extent it is possible and desirable to substitute antidumping regulations with those that govern competition policy and what the impact, if any, of such substitution would be.
 
The thematic structure of the session will be the following:

  • Interface between antidumping rules and competition laws
    After discussing the similarities, differences and complementarities between antidumping rules and those that commonly govern competition policy, the session will examine the following questions: What are the objectives of antidumping and competition laws? Where do their objectives overlap? What have been the effects of the application of these rules in the international market place?

  • Evolution of use of antidumping rules and competition laws
    The session will address the following questions: Has the use of antidumping rules and competition laws changed over the last 50 years? Can countries use these rules as a protectionist measure? What options are available for national and international policymakers to prevent this?
  • Current debate on use of antidumping rules versus national competition regimes
    The panellists will provide their viewpoints on the expected impact of replacing antidumping with competition policy and on whether international organizations should pursue an agreement for a common competition legal framework.

Session 41: The post-crisis agenda for growth in developing and emerging economies: unlocking the potential of telecommunications
Organized by: International Chamber of Commerce (UK)
Date: Friday, 17 September, 16:30 — 18:30
 
A significant body of research highlights that telecommunications have a significant impact on economic growth and social development. This is often interpreted as being due to the fact that telecommunications (and associated services) help to reduce transaction costs, increase the efficiency of markets, and consequently lead to increased investment levels. Much of the literature on the subject suggests that the most significant effect of telecommunications on growth occurs in less-developed economies.
 
In this context, this session will examine the potential role of telecommunication services in promoting (renewed) growth in developing and emerging economies following the financial crisis of 2008/2009.
 
Following an initial review of the economic and social benefits of telecommunication services, the session will examine the regulatory and trade tools that could be used to unlock the full potential of telecommunications in the developing world. Is there a role for the WTO in this process? Is there a need for greater coordination between the WTO and other bodies that are active in this sphere?
 
Session 17: Can the existing multilateral trading system cope with the emerging challenges?
Organized by: Inter-Parliamentary Union and European Parliament
Date: Thursday, 17 September, 14:15 — 16:15
 
The enduring global economic and financial crisis has generated renewed awareness of the benefits of the rules-based, stable, predictable trading system embodied by the WTO. However, the crisis has also exposed the system to new pressures resulting from a decline in international trade, a surge in protectionist tendencies and a revived interest in regional trade agreements, accentuated by chronic doubts about the ability of the negotiating machinery to bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion.
 
Against the background of discussions about the need for a new multilateralism model, legislators are confronted with difficult choices about ways to overcome economic hardship and social recession. Accepting the notion that trade is as much a consequence as a driving force of the economic rebound, members of parliament are increasingly assertive of their own rights and wary of the need to submit to legally enforceable ceilings on farm subsidies and trade tariffs set from outside. In an atmosphere of swelling antipathy to globalization, this adds to public misgivings about the credibility of multilateral institutions.
 
Parliaments bear their share of responsibility for ensuring that the multilateral trading system is able to reform itself in response to changing conditions. Their role is to provide stringent oversight of government policies, commitments and plans, including in the sphere of international trade. The panellists will consider — from a parliamentary perspective — policy responses to the growing pressures on the multilateral trading system in the wake of the economic crisis and in view of the emerging challenges. This session forms part of a continuous process known as the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, a mechanism of parliamentary interaction with the WTO which has become its de facto parliamentary dimension.