WOMEN AND TRADE

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“Governments are discovering how procurement policies can be used to break patterns of economic exclusion and deliver real, immediate benefits," DG Azevêdo said. "Improving women's access to this sector would unlock many opportunities for female entrepreneurs, with a direct impact on their economic wellbeing. The sheer size of the global public procurement market underlines the potential. It is estimated to account for around 15% of GDP in most economies. One element here is to lower barriers for small businesses," he added. His full speech is available here.

DG Azevêdo spoke at the opening session of the workshop co-organized by Moldova, the WTO, the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The event focused on the participation of women-owned businesses and traders in government procurement markets and brought together specialists in the government procurement sector, representatives from international organizations, WTO members and experts.

"Public procurement can become an important policy tool to foster inclusive economic development, empowering women to fully participate in this process and reap the benefits, as the expenditure of public funds will go towards public benefits and will address concrete challenges faced by our societies," noted Corina Cojocaru, a representative from the Government of Moldova.

"The WTO Government Procurement Agreement and procurement guidelines from international financial institutions are key ingredients to helping countries re-visit how they address the challenge to boost the participation of women in public procurement," said Arancha González, Executive Director of the ITC.

"Since 2011, the EBRD has been working with the WTO on promoting better public procurement regimes in the countries where the Bank is operating. Procurement constitutes a very large share of GDP in every country and therefore every step in increasing transparency and efficiency of the procurement area has a huge positive effect on economic and social development," said Norbert Seiler, Deputy General Counsel of the EBRD.

During the workshop, speakers highlighted the small share of public procurement business that is awarded to women-owned enterprises, estimated at 1% by the ITC. They discussed how the rules of the WTO's Government Procurement Agreement can help women get access to public markets, domestically and abroad. WTO members shared best practices being applied in a number of countries, such as preferences in some tendering processes for companies certified as owned by female entrepreneurs. They also highlighted that supporting small and medium enterprises in participating in public tendering is a pathway to better inclusion of women, given their higher representation in this sector.

The organisers held the workshop to build on the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment. This initiative, launched at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, has been endorsed by 122 WTO members and observers.

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