Technology is changing the world economy. Innovation and new technologies are important drivers of economic growth and job creation. Trade can foster innovation, leading to the dissemination of technology and underpinning high-tech expansion. 

Information and communication technology (ICT) is often central to the promotion of greater innovation in business, research and development programmes. Developing countries have a larger share in the global trade of ICT products, and some have used ICT as a tool to become key players in other areas.

Similarly, new tools and technologies have changed the traditional way of doing business and lead to the development of a whole new, digitalised economy. In the digital or internet economy, producers and consumers have significantly changed behaviour, transforming entire business sectors. The digital economy goes beyond the traditional concept of e-commerce: it is also about e-government, e-travel, e-education and e-entertainment.

Innovation, the digital economy and the development of new technology products and services have also given rise to questions and issues in areas such as security, intellectual property, environment, dissemination of technology, privacy, trade facilitation, trade in energy and medical innovation.  

Has technological innovation changed the way we trade, and if so, how? Has trade helped countries to innovate? How can innovation enhance trading capacities of developing countries? How can trade keep up with the rapid evolution of technology?

These are some of the questions that participants will discuss at this year's Public Forum which will focus on five core themes: “Innovation and Trade”; “The Digital Economy”; “The Green Economy”; “Technology, a tool for trade development” and “Trade and Energy”.

Call for proposals

Sessions at the Public Forum are organized by participants. The WTO will select the best proposals and allocate the slots. In order to qualify for selection, organisers will need to complete an application form. The WTO will launch a call for proposals in early April. 

Keeping up to date

Regular updates will be published on the WTO website and on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).


The Public Forum is an annual event which was first launched in 2001. It provides a platform for public debate and discussion across a wide range of WTO issues and activities. The Public Forum has become one of the most important platforms for dialogue between the stakeholders of the WTO. Over the years, more than 8,000 representatives from civil society, academia, business, the media, governments, parliamentarians and inter-governmental organizations have attended the Public Forum.

For more information, please contact us by email at: PublicForum13@wto.org

> Highlights from the Public Forum 2012

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