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An online forum has been set up for each session. You can participate through the programme starting on Monday morning the 25th of September.


Since the suspension of the Doha negotiations two months ago, many questions and concerns have become evident : How will the multilateral trading system look like in the future? should the system be re-shaped and strengthened? Will the WTO continue to exist? These are important questions that need answers, at a time when the WTO and the multilateral trading system in general are at a crossroads.

The Public Forum offers participants the opportunity to voice concerns share ideas, and express opinions regarding the future of the WTO. Most importantly, the Forum provides an opportunity for participants to build bridges and uncover solutions that may ensure that the opening up of markets will produce real bene fits to all people in their everyday lives.

A number of different trade-ralated issues will be discussed during the Forum. The main themes have been grouped below and a number of the questions that will be debated during the Forum are reproduced below.

You can give your opinion on these questions by going to the Forum's programme and initiate or participate in an on-line debate on the various trade-related issues that are going to be discussed during the Forum. Simply click on the individual icons next to the session title and express your views.

Systemic issues

  • The future of the multilateral trading system:
    • Potential scenarios and their implications
      • Should the WTO remain unchanged?
      • If the Doha Round fails, will the credibility of the WTO be jeopardized? Will the fallout go far beyond trade?
      • What is the real cost of a non-agreement in the Doha negotiations? How can it be salvaged and by whom?
    • Growing protectionism
      • Is neo-protectionism a challenge for the multilateral trading system?
      • Do countries need a certain level of protection for their industries to grow?
    • The role and position of developing and least-developed countries
      • Are the concerns and positions of developing and least-developed countries taken into account during the negotiations?

  • WTO at a crossroads:
    • The future role of WTO
      • To remain relevant and viable in the XXIst Century, what will the WTO need to deliver?
      • Where is the WTO heading post non-Doha?
      • How can the WTO ensure a level-playing field ?
    • Decision-making in the WTO
      • Is decision-making in the WTO: medieval or up-to date?
      • How does “decision-making” per form in light of concepts such as participation, transparency, accountability and legitimacy?
      • Can the WTO face current and upcoming challenges with the existing decision-making process?

  • The role of civil society actors in the system: NGOs, academia, business and the media
    • NGOs
      • What impact do NGOs have on national trade policy-making?
      • How can NGOs help shape the future of the WTO?
    • Academia
      • How can academic policy-oriented thinking on WTO matters be improved?
    • Business
      • Is it possible and/or desirable to facilitate a Doha Round which achieves a mutually bene f icial outcome by emphasizing the linkages between corporate social responsibility and development?
    • Media
      • What is the role of the media in boosting public awareness and debate of trade policy-making?
      • How can independent media coverage help public understanding and the legitimacy of trade policy?
      • Trade talks and the developing country media- what problems and challenges do journalists face? How can they be met?
      • As public concern and interest in trade grow, who are the key target audiences? How can they be reached?



  • Trade and development: how to ensure sustainability
    • Should we reconsider trade and development post non-Doha?
  • Aid for trade: expectations and implementation
    • How can Aid for Trade be operationalised?
    • What are the expectations, particularly of LDCs, from the Aid for Trade initiative?
    • What are the roles of donors and of inter-governmental organizations for operationalising Aid for Trade?



  • Environmental issues and WTO rules
    • What are the opportunities and challenges for further strengthening the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment in the Doha Round?
  • Assessing the impact of trade negotiations on the environment
    • What is the role of environmental impact assessments of trade negotiations?
  • Fisheries subsidies
    • What are the prospects for realizing a triple-win for trade, environment and development?


Sustainable Development

    • What needs to be done for the Doha Round to deliver on sustainable development?
    • Is there scope for the DDA to yield results that will contribute to advance sustainable development objectives?



  • The Future of Agriculture Trade
    • The Doha Round, where do we go from here and what are the implications for agriculture?
    • What are the effects of globalization and trade? Do they have an impact upon the transformation of agri food systems?
    • What are the outstanding issues in Agriculture? What are their impacts on farm policies?
    • Should there be new directions for agriculture trade rules? If so, which ones?
    • Are there new possibilities for agriculture trade in Africa ?
  • Subsidies
    • Farm subsidies: who gets what and why?
  • Market Access
    • Are there any flexibilities in the agriculture market access negotiations?
  • Non-trade concerns in agriculture
    • How can non-trade concerns be best safeguarded ľ within the WTO or by strengthening wider global governance?



  • NAMA and sustainable development: Reflecting on a new agenda for the XXIst century
    • What would a pro-development NAMA outcome look like? Does what is on the table fall short?
    • NAMA and employment: what is at stake?
    • Is NAMA more than just tariff cuts?


Specific issues

  • Regional trade agreements
    • Regionalism/bilateralism versus multilateralism
    • RTAs threat or opportunity for the WTO? Or do they create pressure to strengthen WTO rules?
    • How can WTO rules on RTAs be enchanced? What is desirable and what is achievable?
  • International standards
    • How do different kinds of standards affect trade flows? And consumer's welfare?
    • What is the role of governments and the civil society in implementing international standards?
    • How can the participation of developing countries in standard setting be improved?
  • The role of subsidies in international trade
    • What is the theoretical rationale for using subsidies, the main justifications offered by governments to explain their subsidy policies and the degree to which subsidies are used and in what sectors?
  • The accession process
    • Do countries consider the accession process a burdensome price worth paying?
    • Should the accession process be improved? If so, what changes should be made?
  • Employment and trade
    • Can trade deliver decent work in the XXIst Century?
    • What have been the experiences from trade liberalization in relation to job creation and the quality of work?
    • What is needed to ensure that trade liberalization leads to the creation of quality employment?
  • Migration issues
    • Migration and development: What role for the WTO?
  • Gender issues and trade
    • Any chances for a gender-sensitive development?
    • Equitable trade: creating a level playing field for men and women