WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

WTO PUBLIC FORUM: 1-3 OCTOBER 2013

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Public Forum 2013
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Working Session 20: Food reserves in changing food markets: an essential tool for renewed trade confidence

If the biases in current WTO rules could be corrected, said the panel, part of the public stockholding problem could be solved. The rules need to be addressed as a first step towards having a transparent debate about public stockholding for food security. The rules can be changed without changing the objectives of the rules.

The panel said less price volatility is good for food security. This would increase certainty and increase investment in agriculture. Volatile prices discourage new technologies. If there is greater certainty over the price, there is knowledge on what to save, how much to sell and where to invest. Transport infrastructure is imperative for food security. There have been four decades of price stabilization in Asia; this contributed positively to increased agricultural production and fostered development. In both India and Indonesia, there was a long-term and uninterrupted commitment from the government that greatly reduced volatility. To stabilize prices, a country needs logistical capacity to monitor the markets. The costs of holding inventory are very high (15 to 20 per cent of the value of the stock).

There are three levels of defence that ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) countries have against price crunches. They have to use international foreign aid which delays a response, but also international aid has destabilized production systems and the building-up of reserves. Price can be dealt with throughout the supply chain; a number of different provisions deal with this. Production and consumption spheres need to be connected to ensure food security.

For Indonesia, given that rice is a very important food staple it has to be a pillar of agricultural production.

 

Working Session 21: Doha’s impacts on LDCs: listening to the voices of producers and consumers

This session looked into how the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) can help least-developed countries (LDCs) participate more effectively in global trade. The tools provided by the WTO - namely Aid for Trade and the special and differential (S&D) treatment provisions - have both benefits and limitations, panellists said. They concluded that the development component needs to be strengthened in order to fulfil the inclusiveness agenda and suggested ways forward.

The panelists shared the research outcomes of their econometric analysis and socio-anthropological survey “voices of the people” conducted in Madagascar and Cambodia. Based on these, they tried to identify how the DDA provided benefits to LDCs.

On Aid for Trade, speakers argued that trade adjustments policy and budgets, and foreign direct investment (FDI) in low-income countries are too low to ease their integration into global trade. A "Super Aid for Trade" is needed in which development bodies and LDC governments would work together on defining and coordinating projects.

On S&D treatment, a speaker criticized its blurry legal basis, an unclear definition of "developing countries", the dependency on waivers, and the selection of beneficiaries left at the discretion of donor countries. The introduction of S&D treatment in North-South regional trade agreements was suggested as an alternative.

In Madagascar, trade liberalization has increased competitiveness in urban areas and access to cheaper and higher quality clothes and medicines. However, the informal sector still represents about 90 per cent of the labour market. The panellists said Madagascar has managed to create an export-oriented garment industry.

Duty-free quota-free market access granted by donors to developing countries and LDCs (such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act) has increased the number of FDI and the producers' capacity to export. However, in the case of the Japanese market, the benefits for lower-income countries were mediocre compared to lower middle-income countries. LDCs face other barriers to trade such as infrastructure, non-tariff barriers, geographical distance and cultural differences.

In Madagascar, the suspension of the US preferential scheme has had a greater impact than domestic political turmoil, the panellists said. However, the negative effects were mitigated by the existence of another preferential scheme with the EU market.

The panellists suggested carrying out surveys at the people level in the poorest countries, which could be taken up in the discussions at the WTO.

At the end of the panel's presentation, someone from the audience pointed out that not only do adjustments take time, but to a certain extent, they might also be slowed down by the local business environment. One of the panellists criticized the definition of trade adjustment as too narrow. Aid for Trade is in reality targeting solely exports. Surveys conducted in LDCs have shown that Aid for Trade has had little impact on public good, such as infrastructure. A panellist urged governments to increase development-oriented policies. Another panellist called for a "Doha Development Agenda-Millennium Development Goals hybrid" based on more discussions about information sharing at the international level.

 

Working Session 23: ICC World Trade Agenda business priorities to move “beyond Doha”

The session presented the business perspective on the Bali Ministerial Conference. All the speakers called for a meaningful result in Bali that would include a trade facilitation agreement, duty-free quota-free market access for products originating in least-developed countries (LDCs), an LDC services waiver granting preferential treatment to services suppliers of these countries as well as decisions regarding food security and food export controls.

Without concrete results in Bali, the whole system would be at risk, said the panel. There was a sense of urgency. The need to include something significant for developing countries was stressed. It was noted that the greatest amount of enthusiasm for a Bali package, but also the greatest level of anxiety, originated from businesses in emerging and developing countries.

Mr Cliff Sosnow, Member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Trade and Investment Policy, focused his comments on the trade facilitation elements of a Bali package, suggesting a two-stage approach in case of failure to reach an agreement by Bali: immediate implementation of the rules by developed and big developing countries; other developing members would apply the rules later and would benefit from most-favoured nation (MFN) treatment in the meantime. Mr Stuart Harbinson, member of the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment Policy, flagged the importance for business of an extended Information Technology Agreement and negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement.

The main issues raised in the questions/answers session with the audience included the question of "free riders" in plurilateral agreements, the prospects of moving beyond Doha, ICC priorities post-Bali (liberalization of trade in services, fostering a greener environment, investment, and improvements in the dispute settlement system), and how the WTO should deal with the issues that have emerged since the launch of the Doha Development Agenda and that are now part of the negotiating mandate of several preferential trade agreements.

 

Workshop 9: Graduation in intellectual property protection: potential in GI and patents

Special and differential treatment (SDT) for developing countries is limited and subject to erosion in the process of tariff reduction, said the panel. The level of development faced by each country varies, as it does within sectors. SDT weakens the constitutional lock-in of members as they turn away from issues and no longer deal with them. 

Mr Thomas Cottier of the World Trade Institute said "graduation" should mean a uniform status for the membership. Progressive liberalization means progressive regulation. However, he pointed out there are areas not suitable for graduation, such as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, technical barriers to trade (TBT), trade remedies and procedures. Graduation can be applied unilaterally, bilaterally and multilaterally.

Mr Shingal of the World Trade Institute highlighted that graduation in pharmaceuticals is obviously challenging. He mentioned a study that looked at the four main constraints: economic factors, access to medicines, capacity constraints and incidence of disease. He then assigned an indicator for each constraint. This technique ranked countries on where they are placed on each indicator. The amount of correlation between and within indicators captured different aspects of constraints.  It found that there is a certain degree of homogeneity in at least 12 countries in the top 25. Korea, Israel, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Turkey are consistently in the top positions. Brazil was present in all lists except where incidence of disease is given most importance.

Mr Antony Taubman, Director of the WTO's Intellectual Property Division, said one idea floating is "progression" (time lag). In pharmaceuticals, additional flexibility on access to medicine should be the threshold. Data is more complete and geographically inclusive today. However, this also provides a tougher analytical task.  Geographical indications (GIs) seem to protect and benefit infant industries, e.g. Ethiopian coffee.

 

Workshop 10: The right to food through food security stocks: a development-oriented outcome at Bali?

The workshop debated the compatibility between the negotiations on agriculture in the WTO and the right to food in the Human Rights Council and what immediate changes should be made to comply with human rights.

The moderator, Ms Deborah James of "Our World Is Not for Sale Network", said agriculture is a key pillar of the Doha Round reduction in distorting subsidies which was the basis for developing countries agreeing to launch the new round. However, the European Union and the United States continue to subsidize agriculture. She said the human right to food and food security has been raised in other international contexts. The question is "How can we make trade rules work for the poorest among us which are surely those who don't have enough food to eat?"

Mr Jayant Dasgupta, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the WTO, said that non-trade concerns such as food security and developing countries are an integral part of the agricultural reform project in the Agriculture Agreement as set out in the preamble. However, the only actual provision is Annex 2 (Green Box). Provisions are designed for what the situation in Europe was at the time of the conclusion of the Agreement and do not work in other situations. He said developing countries need public stock programmes to provide domestic food aid (Green Box and always allowed), to store up food for use during emergencies, and to prevent food price volatility. Income support programmes are not feasible for developing countries. A price guarantee is the option in the developing country context. Only 16 developing countries have Amber Box (out of 100 developing country members) entitlement; others have the 10 per cent product specific de minimis entitlement.  He suggested the following solutions: revise the external reference price to a more updated figure (like paragraph 7 of the Green Box) or use a deflator when comparing the administered price to the external reference price.

Mr Jacques Berthalot, Agricultural Policies Analyst, Solidarité, said it would be absurd to put in the Amber Box the gap between administered prices and the reference prices because an administered price alone cannot support the domestic price without all of the other mechanisms, such as import protection, export subsidies, production quotas, land set asides and domestic and foreign food aid. This "fake" price support allows the European Union and the United States to shift the subsidies from amber to blue to green without actually changing subsidy levels. These fake supports now represent high proportions (90 per cent) of developed country AMS. He also suggested adjusting the AMS to take inflation into account or to even use the average OECD inflation rate, where wheat AMS for India would be $11.8/ton or only $206 million against the AMS limit. He said US food aid amounted to $107 billion while that of India $9.4 billion. There are 80 million US beneficiaries while India has 475 million, or 6.3 times larger per beneficiary than in the United States. As most US food aid is in "SNAP" which individuals buy in any shop and not through a public procurement, why should developing countries have to account for the difference in the acquisition price and the reference price and not the United States? He said all domestic food aid for all members should be in the Green Box.

 

Working Session 24: Making trade easier: a close look at trade facilitation

Panellists from Malaysia, Colombia, Spain and Brazil presented their country experiences in building up trade facilitation capacities. They noted that trade facilitation could bring substantial benefits to the economy with relatively small resource demands. The challenge is encouraging coordination among agencies and with the private sector.

The panel noted that political leadership and perseverance, public private partnership, mutual recognition of standards, and use of existing benchmarks can be effective ways to implement trade facilitation.

The World Bank and OECD presented their work in the area. The World Bank stressed that trade facilitation is a development opportunity. The Bank spent USD 5.8 billion on trade facilitation assistance in 2013 and will support developing countries in implementing their possible commitments.

The OECD presented its trade facilitation indicators, a tool to help policy makers identify areas for action. Simplifying documents, procedures and improving information availability can greatly reduce trade cost. Most of the measures are not costly to put in place, the OECD noted, and what appears to be most important is human capital and training.

Global Express Association gave a private sector perspective on the value of timely, predictable cross-border delivery. It was noted that currently 89 countries and territories have ratified the Revised Kyoto Convention on customs procedures, and a WTO agreement on trade facilitation would be critical to bring more countries on board.

From the audience, a Third World Network representative pointed out that although trade facilitation as a concept is useful, the poor countries would have to spend more in order to fulfil their obligations under the trade facilitation text. In response, the World Bank said that the group intends to launch a new programme in November this year specifically targeting trade facilitation. It said countries also need to coordinate among each other to improve their capacity. The panel also noted increasing South-South cooperation in sharing experience in this area.

The panellists were Ambassador Gabriel Duque of Colombia, Ambassador Mariam MD Salleh of Malaysia, World Bank Special Representative Selina Jackson, Spain's Director-General of Customs Pilar Jurado, ProCoMex, Brazil Director-General John Mein, and Global Express Association Director-General Carlos Grau Tanner.

 

Working Session 25: The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference: development perspectives

The Bali Ministerial Conference in December presents an opportunity to reinstate development issues in the multilateral arena in the face of the much diminished focus on the subject of development in negotiations, said the panel.

The panel highlighted that the unique characteristics of least-developed countries (LDCs) and small and vulnerable economies should be taken into account while designing concrete developmental policies. The basic objectives of negotiations must be to broaden the commitment to extend duty-free quota-free (DFQF) treatment to LDCs by all developed countries, to improve the rules of origin in the DFQF granting countries and to focus on the "early harvest" approach to negotiations.

A simple and predictable trading environment that suits developing countries should be set up, with a special focus on trade facilitation, said the panel. Development of supply chains is of crucial importance for developing countries to be able to harness the benefits of preferential market access.

Questions from the audience focused on revenue-raising methods for LDCs, providing a complex Aid for Trade package, developing countries' institutional and supply chain constraints, and the necessity for a dedicated facility approach and significant funding sources.

 

Working Session 26: Exploring new frameworks for trade and investment in agriculture

Mr Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute, and World Food Prize Recipient (1995), began the discussion by saying that national assessments of agricultural and food systems needed to be undertaken but very few countries do so. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who agreed on "Time to Act" agreed that they needed to get these assessments done and to develop guidelines for countries to do these assessments. Pilot programmes are under way in Senegal, Kenya and Ethiopia aimed at helping them to move towards sustainable agriculture. With half the money used in agriculture subsidies, agriculture can be transformed.

Most people would agree that trade is a means to an end, said the panel. The WTO preamble adds to the GATT preamble, and includes sustainable development. In other words, trade as it is governed should not undermine the efforts of the rest of society to move towards sustainable development. If the trading system was geared to alleviating poverty and upholding sustainable development, what changes would need to be made? The trading relationship should achieve a greater good (sustainable development). The Doha Round has tried to sweep under the carpet the trade relationship, but meat should now be placed on the bones. 

Investment agreements aim to achieve predictability and security, said the panel. What is happening all over the world is that these agreements are perceived as unfair. Countries are deciding not to update them, and a lot of the agreements end in dispute. By signing agreements that seem unfair, one is actually creating an unstable situation by diminishing predictability.

In the question/answer session, a member of the audience said the internalization of external costs generates a problem of low international farm prices, stopping countries from adopting internalization. Do higher farm prices at the international level give us a better chance to support policies to internalize external costs? In response, the panel said trade rules are important for international markets; the problem would be less significant if the markets worked properly, and the problem is they are imperfect and skewed.

Another member of the audience asked if the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture is a job "half way done" in the way that these distortions are limited. The panel said policies should be the target.  WTO rules accept that there are legitimate reasons for discrimination. Possibly a framework agreement regulating the investor and host country could work.

 

Working Session 27: WTO at a crossroads: Bali outcomes for development

The panel gave an overview of the current situation in the WTO, specifically regarding the Bali package. There are three main questions: (i) what is the Bali package? (ii) is it something that can be done? (iii) what are the underlining issues of this package?

The panel underlined that discussions had resulted in determining three pillars for the Bali package: agriculture, trade facilitation, and development issues. For each pillar, there should be a balance, in favour of the poorest countries.

Regarding the agriculture pillar, discussions revolved around administration of tariff rate quotas. On export subsidies, the G-20 had made a proposal to eliminate export subsidies by 2013. But there had been no action on this. On food security, there is a big debate but mainly focused on a possible "peace clause". On trade facilitation, intense negotiations are taking place. There is a possible agreement on this pillar of the package. Finally, discussions on the third pillar (development) revolved around the implementation of special and differential treatment for least-developed countries (LDCs) and other LDC issues (duty-free quota-free market access; the cotton market; rules of origin; and services).

The panellists underlined that there are two real issues for Bali: (i) what happens to the Doha Round (there are two views on this, for some it is not doable anymore; for others, the concerns of developing countries on the development dimension of the Round still remain valid); and (ii) the future of multilateralism.

Panellists agreed the problem confronting the multilateral trading system is more post-Bali than Bali itself. Facilitation of trade is important for developing countries. One of the panellists proposed that if a balance cannot be achieved by the end of October 2013, members should just keep on negotiating after Bali.

 

Working Session 28: WFO policy on international trade

Ambassador John Adank, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the WTO and the Chair of agriculture negotiations at the WTO, started the discussion by explaining that whereas WTO members are hoping to see some developments in the area of trade facilitation, other items on the table for the Bali Ministerial Conference in December are limited.

Ambassador Adank explained there are three specific proposals for Bali in the agriculture sector:

  • a G-33 proposal consisting of public stockholding for food security purposes in favour of developing countries to reflect the greater flexibility that the "Green Box" allows
  • an export competition proposal for the partial implementation of the 2005 commitment to eliminate all export subsidies by 2013
  • a tariff rate quota administration proposal, which aims to give more transparency to the way tariff quotas are administered by WTO members.

Mr Robert Carlson, President of the World Farmers' Organization (WFO), noted that the main reason the WFO adopted a trade policy is so that farmers can speak for themselves in the international arena. Another reason for adopting a trade policy is for food security reasons. He explained that the WFO is committed to reducing world hunger.

Mr Jervis Zumba, Vice President of the WFO, explained that Africa is a regional market where agricultural development is necessary. Intra-Africa trade must be developed as well as the production capacity in the region.

Ms Shelby Matthews, Senior Policy Adviser of Copa-Cogeca, explained the European perspective. She said the issue of climate change and the fact that trade promotes the use of efficient resources would make trade in the agricultural sector even more important in the future. The WTO should monitor not only agricultural subsidies but also agricultural export restraints.

Mr Bruce Wills, President of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, echoed the views of his colleagues and said the same issues are relevant for Oceania.

 

Workshop 12: Implications of potential Bali issues for the post-2015 development agenda and the development of dynamic partnerships

The discussion focused on the interaction between development objectives and the agenda for multilateral trade negotiations at the Bali Ministerial Conference and beyond. One speaker expressed the view that there needs to be an approach of cohesion and complementarity in which trade is understood as an essential ingredient to development goals. The speaker highlighted the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this context as having untapped potential to engage in trade.

Several speakers commented that multilateral trade agreements (for instance, on trade facilitation at Bali) would complement development goals by enabling greater opportunities and reduced costs of trade. One speaker proposed also addressing competition policy as well as the relationship between trade and investment as part of the trade agenda, with a specific view to the participation of SMEs in global value chains.

In addition to the role of SMEs, one speaker underscored the role of larger businesses in the creation of dynamic partnerships and the developmental impacts to be achieved through sustainable business practices of firms with large consumer bases. This speaker stressed that sustainable development is now a necessary priority for businesses, and proposed an "enabling atmosphere" in trade negotiations that would contemplate preferential treatment for sustainably produced goods.  

Various comments were made regarding the role of international organizations and agencies in finding complementarity between trade and development agendas. Speakers broadly called for improved coherence between different entities to find multilateral consensus in this area, also pointing out that while such institutions may have common membership they also have distinct mandates and specializations that should be taken into account.  

Several questions from the audience related to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 8 concerning a global partnership for development, asking specifically about metrics or indicators for its progress and its relationship with the proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). The panel made general observations about the varied contents of MDG 8 and its targets having been neglected compared to other MDGs. The panel advocated the use of indicators, with speakers suggesting varying approaches and caveats. As to PTAs, while one speaker expressed concern about disruption of the universal policy of rule of law under the WTO, another considered that it reflected the fact that trade liberalization will occur in a variety of formats.

 

Workshop 13: Trade facilitation from a business perspective – a key growth enabler

The aim of the workshop was to discuss the value that a WTO trade facilitation agreement would have for business and to assess its practical application.

Mr Neil McMillan, Vice-Chair, Trade and External Affairs Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union, kicked off the discussion by noting that the rise of e-commerce and the globalization of supply chains had increased the need for a trade facilitation agreement. New rules to facilitate trade were particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises as SMEs were now able to reach out to consumers worldwide through e-commerce. However, they do not have the same resources as big companies to overcome customs barriers.

Ms Susanne Aigner, Deputy Director of the World Customs Organization (WCO), presented the various initiatives taken by the WCO to provide guidance to countries on trade facilitation issues and to help them build their capacity.

Ms Penny Naas, Vice-President of United Parcel Service (UPS), outlined UPS's trade facilitation priorities: pre-processing (i.e. the provision of information in advance of customs clearance); timely release of goods; and domestic transit. She called for a commercially meaningful de minimis threshold to be agreed so that trade facilitation efforts can focus on high-value trade transactions. A trade facilitation agreement was key to ensure that all countries, in particular developing countries, could benefit from the global trading environment.

Mr Fernand Rutten, Managing Partner of the Customs & Global Trade service line, Deloitte, noted that a trade facilitation agreement would bring clear benefits (in terms of speed, reduced compliance costs, legal security, etc), but also constraints. The main concern of business was the administrative burden that could be imposed on them as a result of a trade facilitation agreement. The rules needed to be kept simple and implementation was key.

The main points raised during the discussion included the role of trade facilitation in making the internet economy work better, the challenge of implementation, the disconnect between trade negotiators ("trade negotiators often look for a fight because it's fun to have a fight") and businesses who are eager to move and to have a trade facilitation agreement, the need for closer work between the WTO and the WCO to avoid differing interpretations of the rules, the importance of a "single window" and of cooperation between agencies at the national level, and the difficulty of having good data quality.

 

Mid-day Spotlight: World Trade Report: Factors Shaping the Future of World Trade

The presentation focused on some of the findings presented in the 2013 World Trade Report –Factors Shaping the Future of World Trade.

Mr Alexander Keck, Counsellor, Economic Research, WTO, clarified that the Report did not intend to establish that trade was always better, nor was it intended to give an accurate forecast of the future. He said there had been tremendous changes in world trade due to political and economic factors. The idea of the Report was to take stock of these developments. There was a realization that there was a need for a more in-depth discussion on the factors influencing the future of trade.  He referred to the political factors which influenced decision making, such as job creation as well as concerns about the environment.

Mr Keck observed that the trade dynamic has changed over the last 30 years inasmuch as developing countries had a share of 47 per cent in world trade in 2011 compared with 34 per cent in 1980. In Asia, intra-continent trade has increased substantially more than in other continents. He stated that since the production chain today was split into small parts, it was important not to measure trade in gross terms but in value-added terms to capture the contribution of each country in the value chain.

Almost half of trade exports were in services, said Mr Keck. Also, trade was dominated by a small number of big firms whereas others did not export. Within them, the four or five big ones account for the majority of exports. On the simulations carried out in the Report, he noted that more was at stake for developing countries that were growing faster. In a pessimistic scenario, GDP growth of developing countries could be halved and developed countries would be comparatively less affected. The share of South-South trade would not grow in this situation. In contrast, in an optimistic scenario of trade growth, South-South trade would grow much more.

Mr Keck said the Report dealt with issues such as jobs, income equality and the perceived impact of trade on the decisions undertaken by policy makers. He noted that while many recognize the overall benefit of trade, they are still concerned about its impact on them. He questioned what all this meant for the WTO, in particular its agenda and governance. He felt the agenda was relevant. For example, market access was very important. From the governance standpoint, he noticed that many scholars were frustrated at the lack of progress in WTO negotiations. He observed that in other organizations, the Secretariat had the right to initiate discussions without taking away the decision making powers of members. He felt that this could be discussed.

Mr Keck concluded by noting that the landscape was fast changing and the continuation of current trends in each of the factors could not be taken for granted. Some factors such as demography were important for one set whereas factors like infrastructure were important for others. He highlighted that cooperation among policy makers was important.

Ms Roberta Piermartini, Counsellor, Economic Research, WTO, focused on the chapter on technology in the Report. She highlighted the conclusion that the geography of innovation as well as the nature of technological progress was changing. For example, China, South Korea, India and Singapore had emerged as one of the top 30 innovators. Furthermore, the increase in patent applications in Asian countries was more than the increase in OECD countries. She noted that the transfer of knowledge over long distances had increased and so had the internationalization of research. She said production networks enhance service innovation and knowledge flow. Countries that were more vertically integrated transfer more knowledge than ones which were not.

Mr Pedro Roffe, Senior Associate at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), noted that the Report was cautious in coming to certain findings. He agreed with the importance attributed to the emergence of new players in trade. However, such players are few. He noted countries should modulate their intellectual property system as per the state of development. They should provide legal security to investors but should respond to the needs of future creators by allowing dissemination of know how.

Mr Roffe said ICTSD undertook a survey of countries doing business in developing countries and transferring know how to such countries. They noted that while intellectual property was an important consideration, they were equally concerned about the scientific and technical capacity in those countries.

 

Working Session 29: Exploring the trade and innovation nexus

Mr Keith Maskus, University of Colorado Boulder, started the discussion by saying there is an inability to measure intellectual property (IP) reforms and that they have not had much impact on technological processes since the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement came into force. There is a causal impact on IP reforms from the growth of exports in high-technology goods. It is difficult to find significant new investments in private research and development in under-invested public goods. IP reforms are not reducing technical change in those areas. IP rights should be available to public-private partnerships to sort out how they will license new technologies.

Mr Maskus said for developing countries there may be a lot of innovation taking place but it is hard to measure; on the ground research would be needed. The TRIPS Agreement has been a positive force for technology transfer but causality is questionable. Developing countries need to participate in innovation networks.

Mr Jake Colvin, Vice President, National Foreign Trade Council, said enabling information to flow brings access to goods, education, ideas and capital. This is important, particularly to small businesses. Enabling policies allow consumers to benefit from innovation. Trade can foster modern IP frameworks to help ensure transparency. The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) represents an opportunity to talk about some of these issues, such as the temporary entry of people to work on technology products.

Mr Carsten Fink, Chief Economist at the World Intellectual Property Organization, said middle and low-income countries have increased by 13 per cent their patent claims. Research and development (R&D) statistics no longer reflect true innovation. Innovation is increasingly international in nature. Innovation is now conducted differently and in a more open way. A richer and more internationalized innovation landscape is desired. International cooperation reduces transaction costs.

Co-moderated by Carlos Braga of The Evian Group@IMD and Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz of ICTSD, the session addressed questions from the audience such as where could there be consensus among the many members of the WTO and on what subject.  The panel, including John Curtis (ICTSD), Carsten Fink (WIPO), Keith E. Maskus (University of Colorado) and Jake Colvin ((NFTC), agreed that for the foreseeable future, there does not seem to be any area where there will be consensus. Consensus must be looked for elsewhere. However, TISA is promising. In response to what are the elements that the WTO can contribute to, the panel said the most important thing is that markets should be kept as open as possible.  Click here to see a full report.

 

Working Session 30: Facing the challenges of trade in a digital age

Digital transactions are a modern day fixture due to competitive prices and convenience, said the panel. However, they face criminal and commercial threats. These affect different industries, including pharmaceuticals and tobacco. The consumer is important when considering this issue – it is important to identify and educate the consumer on how to "spot" an illegal product. 

The panel said technology plays an important role in online commerce and creating visibility for companies tasked with identifying illegal websites. Track and trace is an important step in countering these threats. Technology will play a key role in facilitating this step (i.e. tracking a product through its supply chain) and overall coordination between stakeholders.

The panel highlighted that the task of identifying counterfeit products or illegal transactions will involve coordination of different stakeholders in society, including consumers, financial partners and international organizations (World Health Organization, World Customs Organization and the WTO).

 

Working Session 31: Unleashing the potential for FDI and trade in developing countries: the case for a multilateral agreement on investment

There is a need to channel foreign direct investment towards the goal of sustainable development, said the panel. Countries need to revise their investment policies and bring them in line with economic, industrial and social policies.

The panel said international rule-making on investment is at a crossroads and the regime is in need of transformation. The trend is to move away from bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and plurilateral investment treaties (PITs) to regional trade agreements (RTAs). Although there is a decline in the number of BITs/PITs/RTAs being signed, there is an increase in investor state disputes.

Forced localization is one of the biggest problems being faced by investors, said the panel. There is a need for open and non-discriminatory market access, a level playing field and the investment regime being considered pro public policy and effective corporate and social responsibility.

The panel said BITs/RTAs are not the way forward for the investment regime. There is a need for a multilateral investment framework but there is no consensus on what type of framework is needed. There is reluctance for the regime to be a negotiated multilateral agreement in view of the stalemate being faced by the WTO. UNCTAD suggests a two pronged approach: (1) the creation of an informal committee of experts addressing this issue in both their personal capacity and as government representatives; and (2) the sharing of national experiences to allow the exchange of best practice.

 

Working Session 32: Global value chains in a changing world

Global value chains (GVCs) have changed the quality and dimension of world trade in the last 15-20 years, said the panel. The market is now more interconnected than before. At each step, some value added is created. Sometimes the real value comes at the consumer end.

The panel said exports require imports. Previously, imports were seen only as competition to local production. Protectionism is becoming costlier. Its impact affects more participants in GVCs than in conventional trade.

Services (banking, transport, distribution, retailing, etc.) are becoming increasingly important. For some, they are the "glue" in GVCs. For others, said Patrick Low, Fung Global Institute, they are more than that; they are part of the production process. Their share in gross global trade is 24 per cent.

 

Working Session 33: Innovative models to stimulate innovation and access to health

The subject of discussion was novel mechanisms to spur innovation aimed at addressing diseases that disproportionally affect developing countries.

Mr Jean-Pierre Paccaud, DNDi, said the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a research and development organization that develops new treatment for communicable, neglected diseases in developing countries. In the ten years since its founding, DNDi has engaged in finding ways to bring medicines to address neglected diseases in developing countries.  From 1975 to 2000, only 16 new drugs were developed to address neglected diseases due to the absence of profitable markets, the traditional incentive for medical R&D. Since 2007, DNDi has delivered six treatments, including treatments for malaria, sleeping sickness, Leishmaniasis, Human African Trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease. Demand for the drugs has been substantial, indicating that the need was there.

Mr Paccaud said DNDi’s success is due to the following reasons: it is patient-needs driven (focuses on what will benefit patients, including where the disease is located geographically and the living conditions of those suffering from the disease) - this influences the stability of the drug, administration routes, cost, and dosing frequency; it builds partnerships and external bodies, including research universities, governments, hospitals, pharmaceutical industry, other NGOs, health ministries, etc; and it ensures equitable access though patient-oriented licensing schemes.

Mr Greg Perry, Medicine Patents Pool (MPP), said the need to find innovative business models and innovative financing clinical research measures is fundamental in addressing the disease burden in developing countries, particularly with regard to situations in which market-based mechanisms are not working. MPP addresses the challenge of providing access to HIV medicines to developing countries through voluntary licensing of HIV medicines. Key challenges of ensuring access and innovation include ensuring continued rewards, facilitating innovation aimed at developing countries, and ensuring access to innovative products in developing countries.       

Mr Perry said key solutions to ensure access and innovation include sharing or pooling patents and technology through a collaborative voluntary licensing system, which creates a win-win for all stakeholders. The business aspect of MPP is the “one shop” model: MPP sub-licenses rights to HIV medicines, lessening the burden on originator companies. One benefit of the MPP model is patent sharing to create fixed dose combinations – by pooling products of different intellectual property rights (IPR) holders, the MPP can facilitate the development of new fixed dose combinations, or pediatric formulations. At MPP, licences are negotiated from a public health perspective: they are transparent, non-exclusive, and open, large in geographical scope, allow development of paediatric formulations and fixed dose combinations.

Mr Tom Bombelles, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said the neglected tropical disease (NTD) field by definition calls for more solutions and innovation. WIPO Re: Search is a platform for the sharing of IP assets and resources in order to catalyse research and development for malaria, TB and other NTDs. Under the WIPO Re: Search system, members upload assets and resources onto the searchable, public database, then the partnership hub administrator facilitates specific collaborations between WIPO Re: Search members and those doing research in a specific field. A key component of WIPO Re: Search is that licences must be royalty free for research and manufacture to anyone anywhere in the world.

Mr James Love, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), said prizes can be used as an incentive mechanism and also a way of reconciling innovation and access to innovations. The prizes that KEI has promoted are based on open licensing of IP (both end product and upstream), open dividends, use of competitive intermediaries to manage resources, flexible criteria for valuation, intervention for targeting health problems, and special incentives for technology transfer and cap build in developing countries. The biggest challenge in developing a new financing programme is that it requires a lot of money behind the idea and has to compete with the patent system, which is old and deeply entrenched in budget processes. KEI proposes the idea of a WTO agreement on the supply of public goods; specifically, an international agreement on financing access to medicines.

Mr Balasegaram, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said the three main problems in countries where access, adaptation, and affordability is problem are lack of access to innovation, a lack of innovation, and the lack of a collaborative approach to public health needs. To move forward, it is critical to talk about access and innovation together; access must be part of the solution. To find solutions, sustainable and shared financing, effective management of IP, and open and collaborative models for R&D are needed. Different mechanisms and organizations should be combined based on the disease and the situation because not all diseases or situations have the same deficiencies. Innovation must be rewarded, but there is also a need to ensure that innovators move in the right direction. Low and middle-income countries need to be a part of the solution – in other words, resources and funds should come from low and middle-income countries.

Mr Fernando Rosales, Permanent Mission of Bolivia, said the international community needs to realize that the current international model fails to address problems faced by developing countries – it is clear that the patent system has failed to incentivize innovation in medicines that affect developing countries. The global strategy on action was established by the World Health Organization with a mandate to review the current situation regarding funding R&D, and delinking R&D from price. It is key to ensure that outcomes of collaborative open source models are not restricted; rather, the outcome of open collaborative models should be free of IPRs, ensuring that users can improve products.

Mr Eric Notegen, Hoffman-La Roche, said that the patent system is functioning well; it ensures a means to use differential pricing, which is necessary in order to secure investment. It is key that products are not diverted into markets – the risk of product diversion means that companies cannot afford to sell in certain markets at a discounted price. We must consider innovation and access together; if innovation does not reach people who need it, then it is useless. Innovators are starting to understand the obligation to consider access, and those concerned with access are realizing the need for someone to invest and create.

 

Workshop 14: Making the digital economy work for small businesses: customs and delivery as trade enablers

Ms Evdokia Moise, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), began the discussion by explaining that the OECD has created certain trade facilitation indicators to help countries assess their performance and reveal those areas in which they must improve. For international trade, it is particularly relevant for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to have clear and predictable rules and for formalities to be streamlined.

Ms Milena Burimirovic, World Customs Organization (WCO), said the WCO helps members to facilitate their customs procedures and would help them to implement any new trade facilitation agreement. What the trade facilitation agreement would do, among other things, is to increase coordination among customs agencies from several countries, reducing working hours and time at customs and speeding up the customs clearance process. The "single window", which is similar to coordinated border management, is being negotiated at the WTO. One of the areas of opportunity for the WCO is SMEs. This is an issue that needs to be tackled by the WCO.

Mr Chris Webster, eBay, expressed eBay's view on the issue of trade facilitation. He noted that the internet is a fantastic platform for SMEs to increase trade flows. Nonetheless, logistics and shipping are the main inhibitors of international trade. According to a poll carried out by eBay, 92 per cent of merchants of all sizes replied that the first thing they would request the government to do is to create a better, cheaper and predictable postal service.

Mr Paul Donohoe, Universal Postal Union (UPU), explained the role of the UPU in international trade. He noted that UPU is a specialized inter-governmental agency of the United Nations that assists some countries to improve their postal services.

Mr Andrew Wilson, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), noted that, in the view of the ICC UK, a single window will be extremely helpful in facilitating international trade.

Mr Mohammad Saeed, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), stated that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would only cover the regulatory, customs border part of trade facilitation. Nonetheless, there are other faces of the trade facilitation problem that should be addressed. Mr Saeed discussed some of the problems facing SMEs from the perspective of developing countries.

 

Working Session 34: Innovative agricultural production technologies: a global approach to increasing production, enhancing food security and improving food safety?

Ms Catherine Moreddu, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), started the discussion by saying that to determine what innovation in agriculture is, we must first define agriculture. Agriculture can be seen as a field of science and also as a socio economic objective – the boundaries between sectors are not clear. Innovation is essential for long-term productivity in the agriculture sector, economic growth, higher competitiveness, ensuring lower food costs, adapting to climate change, reducing losses along the food chain, and helping improve nutritional attributes of food and ensuring food traceability. Innovation in agriculture depends on market incentives and also depends on the policy and regulatory environment, not exclusively limited to agriculture policies but all general policies.

To foster and facilitate agricultural innovation, said Ms Moreddu, attention must be paid to the general policy environment, including financial markets, macro-economic conditions, tax policy, human capital (health and education), regulations, good information-sharing systems, etc. There is a need to remove obstacles to structural change; structural change is one of the factors that helps promote innovation and productivity. To strengthen cross-country cooperation, participation in and support for international efforts needs to take place. There is a need to facilitate the exchange of data, improve policy coherence (i.e. signals given to farmers and researchers are coherent), look at policies as a whole, improve the available information to develop a long-term view, and develop better long-term methods.

Dr Adrianne Massey, Biotechnology Industry Organization, said that during the next few years, discussions about new breeding technologies will become prevalent, and how we use these technologies. The implications include how to regulate, ethical considerations, etc. The discussions must be well informed to be productive. The term "genetically modified organisms" (GMOs) is inherently misleading because people use it to refer to a specific set of modified organisms; however, as soon as the human species started to domesticate crops, it started to genetically modify crops. The history of genetically modifying crops includes artificial selection, selective breeding, and eventually selective breeding between different species (these are crosses that would not occur naturally), and then selective breeding between different generations. The cost of regulatory compliance is prohibitive: the regulatory compliance costs of breeding are zero, whereas the regulatory compliance cost of genetic engineering is USD 15-36 million. Only agronomic traits in crops are worth the investment and regulatory compliance cost.

Dr Emilio Rodriguez Cerezo, AGRITECH (New Technologies in Agriculture), European Commission, said mainly Western countries (North America and the EU) are behind the research in new breeding techniques. The commercial interest in bringing new breeding techniques to the market is very strong; the institutions behind these patents are mainly companies in the US or EU which are specialized in one specific breeding technique. Companies dominating the seed market are interested in new breeding technologies and either own rights to the technologies or are licensing the technologies. Drivers that lead to commercial development of techniques include the technical potential of new plant breeding techniques and economic advantages. The constraints of commercial development of techniques include technical constraints, regulatory costs, and market access uncertainty. Discussions on regulatory issues associated with new plant breeding techniques are taking place in many countries.

Mr Salvatore A. Amodeo, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, US Department of State, said the reality is that by 2050, we will need 70 per cent more food using less land, less water and less pesticides to address this technology. There is an emerging trend of countries establishing bio-economy initiatives. Innovation in the bio-economy sector is seen as an important source of economic growth.

 

Working Session 35: Digital innovation in higher education: legal and policy issues affecting cross border trade in education services

The moderator, Mr Simon Lester of the CATO Institute, said that online education is trade in services. We should try to develop rules for trade in higher education now to avoid "trade wars" in the future. The key trade issue is whether an online degree from a foreign country is a basis for a career and further study in your own country. Adding to the complexity of this area is that governments are very involved in the area of higher education, through public universities but also because in many countries students are entitled to government benefits.

Mr Daniel Torres, Director-General of the CSEV Foundation, said that massive open online courses (MOOCs) are commonplace nowadays. It is a new paradigm for education. It is a way of learning which a lot of people can undertake with no required background. It is offered by an entity (a university or private entity) open to everybody and that means it is massive. It means that not only can 1 million people watch the same class and then pass an exam, but individuals learn with many other people. The greater the number of people learning together, the better the dynamic will be. In a MOOC, there is no need for a teacher or tutor to be your default resource. In a MOOC, your default resource for help is the people learning with you. A MOOC is a new kind of social learning. The teacher (or the "curator" as they are called in the world of MOOCs) oversees the learning process. The role is not to solve student problems but to orient the efforts of the community. In this sense, the teacher is like a shepherd. Through MOOCs, education is always open, it is always available, and every individual is able to become a teacher in whatever subject. The notion of the classroom is changing, and learning is becoming a peer-to-peer activity. Successful MOOCs depend on private and public cooperation. Especially given the current scarcity of public funds, the private sector needs to "come to the rescue", offering short-term financing of this kind of effort. In the long term, too, the private sector should become committed to this kind of activity. Harvard, Stanford and MIT already have MOOCs. They created MOOCs not to increase their presence internationally but to enhance the experience of on-site students, to flip the concept of the classroom, to explore new ways of learning, and to encourage students to speak to thousands of people all over the world.

Mr Bernard Hugonnier, Deputy Director for Education of the OECD, said only 2.5 to 3 million out of 200 million students in the world are using MOOCs. But this is expected to increase rapidly. The drop-out rate from MOOCs is high. Only 10-15 per cent are finishing their course and passing the final exams. There is a need for students to learn how to use MOOCs. This is not simple. The system of questions and answers is extremely demanding. There are a number of questions relating to MOOCs. The first relates to quality. Quality and teaching methodologies are not the same everywhere in the world. Indeed, quality assurance in higher education exists only in about one-third of countries. Second, courses are not always relevant for the whole world – course content may be highly culturally specific. A further question relates to durability – what if MOOC providers simply stop providing content? Also, what about the risk of rogue providers? OECD-UNESCO has developed guidelines on quality in cross-border higher education services. These are not mandatory, however. Another question relates to the value of certification provided by MOOCs. In some cases, successful completion of a MOOC does not lead to a credit or any kind of certification. Yet another question is how to prevent fraud on the students' part, i.e. how to be sure that it is the student that is actually sitting the relevant assessment tasks. This can be extremely demanding and difficult. Another issue is the protection of students' personal information, learning materials (e.g. dissertations), and test, exams, etc. There are international standards developed by WIPO, ISO, IETF and others. However, there is no harmonization at the international level. Finally, what is the relationship between MOOCs and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) commitments? MOOCs can be provided under all modes, though currently only Mode 1 and 2 are relevant.

Mr Aik Hoe Lim, Counsellor of the WTO Trade in Services Division, said that a first question is whether this is trade under the GATS. It is open and online. If it is open, is there a commercial aspect? Is there competition? Assuming that there is, what kind of trade barriers might exist? If a MOOC is online, is this Mode 1? Or is it Mode 2? In an online environment, is the service being transmitted and consumed in another territory? Or has the student moved into the territory of the provider? What kinds of barriers might exist? Perhaps there are local presence requirements. Most of the restrictions will probably be in terms of qualification, recognition, and accreditation. These are not strictly trade barriers, but they are part of a licensing regime designed to protect consumers and ensure quality control. However, they could be a barrier to enrolling students. Can GATS offer a way to deal with these issues? The first step is to obtain more commitments in education services. Education is not currently well committed. Some 57 WTO members currently have a commitment. About half have a commitment under Mode 1. However, getting commitments is not enough. Trade barriers will be in the form of regulatory requirements, and additional commitments under Article 18 of the GATT may be required. One might need to ask whether there is some kind of education regulatory template that could be scheduled to prevent trade barriers arising in the field of MOOCs. But overall we are still in the early days of thinking whether there is any trade policy issues involved with MOOCs.

Professor Raymond Saner of Basle University and Sciences Po said there are many questions about MOOCs. It is a new kind of business in the educational sector. It involves big amounts of money. The initial goal was that this should be for free. However, commercial providers are now starting to add fees. So soon this will become a very important business operation. Money is made through different steps: application fees, tutoring, and commercial sponsorship. There is a business model that goes along with this new pedagogical model. But MOOCs also offer a solution to a market failure in education, and contribute to the equitable availability of higher education. What kind of barriers could arise? If a country has made no commitments, it could do many things. It could block all MOOCs coming from abroad. It could impose local ownership, presence, etc. requirements. But governments face a challenge, since many young people are very excited and keen to get involved in MOOCs.

 

Working Session 36: Making trade and innovation work for productive development: the case for regulating capital flows in a high tech world

The panel addressed the regulation of cross-border capital flows and, in particular, the policy space retained by governments under their commitments in trade and investment treaties. One of the speakers discussed the flexibility for capital controls under the GATT (under which capital account liberalization is a secondary result of trade liberalization) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Under the latter agreement, WTO members are only required to liberalize capital movements in connection with specific GATS commitments, and there are various provisions (including the "prudential" exception for financial services) that preserve some degree of policy space for states.

Another speaker examined the relationship between bilateral/regional trade and investment treaties on capital account regulations, describing a wide range of more restrictive and flexible approaches with varying conditions for using capital controls and dispute settlement procedures.

Other speakers shared the specific experiences of South Africa and Brazil in maintaining regulatory policy space and entering into trade/investment agreements. In South Africa, a review of a series of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) to which it was party led to decisions to terminate existing BITs and to take measures to find a balance between investor rights (e.g. to repatriate funds) and circumstances where capital movements require regulatory intervention.

As for Brazil, it was noted that its foreign direct investment (FDI) and financial services regime is generally open (e.g. without screening or quantitative restraints on investment) and that it had signed relatively few financial services commitments. Ultimately, Brazil's approach was said to consist of protecting direct investment and trade (as opposed to speculation) in accordance with principles of non-discrimination, transparency and the possible use of a range of tools to address capital flows.

In responding to questions from the audience, the panel raised the issue that a government might have a permanent mechanism in place to take counter-cyclical regulatory action, noting that this could be specifically mentioned and exempted in making international commitments. However, one participant recalled that countries had been discouraged from doing so in the past.

The panel also explored the meaning of "FDI" and the challenge of distinguishing speculative capital from positive investment, taking note of different "definitional" approaches that might have an impact on the protection afforded under a treaty.

 

Working Session 38: Expanding trade through innovation and the digital economy

Microsoft lawyer Jean-Yves Art began the discussion by reviewing leading economic theories about the relationship between competition and innovation: Schumpeter's view that monopolies confer the resources and market information enabling innovation, Arrow's contrary view that innovation is driven by competition, and Aghion et al's more recent argument that the relationship in fact follows an inverted-U relationship (neither monopolies nor super-competitive markets generate much innovation, but situations in between, when firms have some market power, do).

Mr Art identified some "firm-agnostic" factors behind innovation, such as access to innovation-enabling inputs (e.g. development and deployment of broadband has enabled development of cloud computing; development of ARM chips, which use less energy than Intel chips, has enabled the development of battery powered computing devices like smartphones and tablets), customer demand, and the regulatory environment. "Firm-specific" factors include agility and management focus: the ability for companies to get new ideas to decision-makers and then make good decisions quickly. He pointed to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen's distinction among incremental innovation (small value-increasing improvements), breakthrough innovation (major leaps) and disruptive innovation (that creates a new market). Mr Art took issue with the theory that breakthrough and disruptive innovation tend to come from new entrants, arguing that behemoth Microsoft was the first to demonstrate that computing platforms can be a service (in the cloud instead of on your computer or a physical server). He concluded that competition is one, but only one, of the elements leading to innovation.

Mr Michael Adam, a digital economy expert in the European Commission, said that monopolies can hurt innovation in some cases, but help in others, and argued that a balance needs to be struck between intellectual property law and competition law, and that both should enhance consumer rights. His presentation focused on the relationship between standards and competition law, and the problems caused when patented technologies are essential to comply with standards. While standards are useful for enforcing interoperability – imagine if your iPhone could only call other iPhones – they carry anti-trust risks. If a company has a patent on something that becomes a standard, it receives market power that would not have existed. It could try to extort money from companies seeking to meet the standard. In order to preserve the benefits of standards but protect against abuse, many governments require ex ante disclosure of essential patents and a pledge to license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms. In Europe, some firms (Google/Motorola vs. Apple, vs. Microsoft) have sought injunctions that would prevent the sale of competitors' products because of disputes over standard-essential patents. The Commission fears that these injunctions could be anti-competitive – either excluding products from the market or distorting royalty negotiations. Commission leaders have urged leading IT companies to look for negotiated solutions – "peace talks" to end the patent wars.

The question-and-answer discussion raised questions about the potential for tension between competitive considerations and obligations under the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement in connection with ongoing cases in German courts. It was noted that coming up with definitive ex ante regulations about standards compliance would be tough in such a fluid sector. Mr Eduardo Perez Motta, the moderator, concluded that for all of the IT sector's obvious benefits, regulation in the sector was complex. He wondered aloud whether the patent approach might be too inflexible.

 

Workshop 15: The Internet as the world's trading platform: how and why is it so successful?

The session started with an overview of how the Internet and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) work.

Speakers stressed the importance of the Internet as a trading platform. They highlighted the transformative power and commercial impact of the Internet on economies worldwide.

The issue of Internet governance was discussed. Concerns were expressed regarding attempts by some governments to control Internet content and data flows. It was noted, in this respect, that business would be the main losers of such controls. The collateral damage could be enormous. This is where the WTO could play a role. Should not trade agreements incorporate binding provisions to preserve trade data flows, for example?

During the question/answer session, the issues discussed included whether Internet standards could be integrated in trade agreements, and how illicit trade affected policy discussion on the regulation of the Internet.

 

Workshop 16: Incorporating interactive e-platforms and e-tools in international trade: the way forward for Aid for Trade, capacity training and private sector engagement

The main objective of this session was to show how technology can successfully be applied in international trade and development, said the panel. The session focused on new modes of delivery of trade capacity training and how e-learning can enhance Aid for Trade and private sector engagement.

The Institute for International Trade (IIT, the University of Adelaide) addressed this by providing experience-based examples from its trade capacity training programmes, with a focus on Africa and the Pacific Island countries. The video of Mr David Morfesi showed IIT's capacity building programmes for developing countries.

The video of Mr Jim Redden explained their experiences in the Pacific, building trade capacity and negotiating skills. The island countries were negotiating the Cotonou Agreement and a regional trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand. They have been working with Aus-Aid on making sure that the training delivered is operated effectively.

What is important about these platforms, said the panel, are access and participation, given that the countries are extremely isolated. One of the challenges faced in information-gathering is undertaking "pre-gathering" surveys so that when there is a face-to-face encounter, it is basing the results on outcomes that are desired. The main challenge is data collection in developing countries. The success of trade capacity training is shown by the fact that after the courses many people have moved up the corporate ladder.

Summaries of other sessions on Day 3 coming soon

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