Core themes
Geneva, WTO headquarters

The discussion will encompass four core themes that will structure the analysis of the main issues focusing on the future of the multilateral trading system and how the WTO can promote coherence at the international level to better address world problems and contribute towards improved global governance.

I. Food Security

Objectives: To discuss the role and contribution of trade and the WTO multilateral rules-based system, including the Doha Round, to achieve food security. Food price volatility, including food price hikes and the economic costs entailed because of the uncertainty it generates, in particular for poor countries and poor people will also be addressed.

Food security is a key international issue that gives rise to keen debate. It refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it. In order to ensure lasting food security, a range of different policies will be discussed, including in relation to trade.

Sessions concerning this theme: 6, 11, 13, 23, 25, 29, 32, 43


II. Trade in Natural Resources

Objectives: To examine to what extent countries gain from liberalizing trade in natural resources and the effects of international trade on the sustainability of natural resources.

Discussion will focus on access to natural resources, and how trade rules can help governments attain better environmental protection and resource management at the national level. In addition, participants will examine the coherence between WTO rules and those of other international agreements in the management of trade and related areas. Sustainability within the context of the trade and climate change debate will also be examined.

Sessions concerning this theme: 24, 28, 40, 42, 44


III. Made in the World and Value-Added Trade

Objectives: To debate how the measure of trade flows in value added terms affects the way we analyse international economics and conduct trade policy.

In an era of international supply chains and production, where products are made in many countries, the concept of country of origin and the calculation of trade flows may need to be revisited to better reflect the way global business is done today.

This in turn, will help policy makers base their decisions on economically meaningful data. As a result, Governments will better understand that raising trade barriers hurts domestic companies dependent on the availability of competitive inputs for their competitiveness. It will also alleviate some of the misunderstandings resulting from inflated bilateral trade imbalances based on the gross calculation of trade figures rather than on a value added basis.

Sessions concerning this theme: 3, 15, 21, 27, 36


IV. What next for the Trading System?

Objectives: To identify how the rules-based multilateral trading system should respond to the rapidly changing global environment and promote coherence at the international level to better address global trade challenges.

The world has changed. The political, economic, and social contours of the world we live in today are very different to those that existed a decade ago. As a result there is a widening gap between existing trade rules and the new realities. Alongside developed countries, a number of fast-growing developing economies have acquired significant influence in international trade relations. For instance, China’s accession to the WTO 10 years ago has had important implications for Chinese economic growth and development. In this context, examining how the WTO should adapt to effectively deal with the new realities becomes a question of paramount significance; one that opens the door to reflect on the WTO’s agenda looking forward. Addressing these questions will prompt participants to examine the rules that we have, acknowledge existing loopholes and recognize future areas for rule-making while identifying the virtues of the system and the need to preserve the acquis.

The proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs); the shift of power in international politics in particular with the accession of powerful new players in the global economy to the WTO (such as China and Saudi Arabia); new technological developments; the growing role of non-state actors; evolving public attitudes towards the WTO; current reflections on social and environmental considerations; and the future of trade negotiations -multilateral or sectoral are some of the issues that will be debated to ensure the WTO effectively adapts to our fast-changing world.

Sessions concerning this theme: 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 26, 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 41, 45