Under the theme "Fragility and Conflict: Building Peace through Trade and Economic Integration", the event was opened by WTO Deputy Director-General Anabel González. In her opening remarks, she underlined the importance of the topic, which has been gaining traction in recent years, especially given the poly-crisis that has exposed multilayers of fragility around the world.

DDG González emphasized the importance of addressing the issue, highlighting that "almost 1 billion people live in FCA states, nearly double the level of two decades ago". She added: "It is estimated that 60 per cent of the world's poor live in these countries, where fragility, conflict and poverty often form a vicious cycle."

Noting that for several decades the multilateral trading system has provided an enabling environment for promoting peace through economic integration and growth, DDG González stressed: "Trade has the potential to address fragility and conflict in a number of different ways, including by reducing vulnerabilities to external and internal shocks, strengthening ties between states to reduce the likelihood of conflict, and giving populations opportunities for economic development."

"The challenges faced by FCA states are intrinsically linked to important matters which the WTO can play a role in addressing, such as the management of climate change, food security, the world's shared and scarce resources, the use of the digital space, and supply chains. These challenges must therefore be addressed simultaneously if we are to harness the power of trade as a force for good," she added.

DDG González recalled that next month marks five years since the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, where a group of fragile and post-conflict least developed countries (LDCs) – known as the g7+ WTO Accessions Group - first raised the matter of addressing fragility and conflict through trade as a systemic issue for the attention of the WTO membership. Her full statement is available here.

The opening session was moderated by Dr Helder Da Costa, g7+ General Secretary, who thanked its members and the WTO Secretariat for their sustained efforts in bringing the discussion on the trade and peace nexus to the attention of the international community. Quoting Xanana Gusmão, former President of Timor-Leste, he underlined that trade is the peaceful alternative to war and stressed that "in the global conversation about trade and global economic integration, it is crucial that perspectives and the context of FCA states are heard."

"Our fragility is not a special characteristic of our countries but a temporary phase in our trajectory which requires special care and attention … We need to be able to walk on our own two feet before we can participate in the global trade that can help us achieve prosperity for our people," he added.

Mr Abraham K. Kamara, Deputy at the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and co-coordinator of the g7+ WTO Accessions Group, said this Group has been championing the Trade for Peace agenda based on peer-to-peer support and knowledge sharing among its members.

Mr Kamara stressed that the Trade for Peace agenda has now become more relevant than ever. "We live in a time of unprecedented challenges that demand the global community to urgently look for new approaches and solutions, especially for FCA states, which have been disproportionately affected, first by the pandemic and now by geopolitical tensions," he said.

"We urgently need effective support in accessing the international trade tools provided by the WTO for the benefit of our people, especially in promoting durable peace," he added.

Dr Paul R. Williams, co-founder of Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), focused his intervention on how "getting to yes" in a peace deal requires the participation of trade experts and how trade and the regulation of trade can help build a durable and sustainable peace.

Citing the agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation to allow the export of grain as an example, he noted that while generally peace negotiators think of trade for peace as an add-on to a peace agreement, the so-called Black Sea Grain Deal has changed the perspective. "There you see trade for peace as literally the cornerstone of what will become a future a ceasefire and eventually a future sustainable peace agreement - one can hope - between Russia and Ukraine."

Dr Williams noted that in general peace negotiators know about demilitarization, demobilization and reintegration but not about trade regimes and their future impact, for example, on the ownership, management and revenue sharing of natural resources, resulting often in deals breaking down.

"Having trade lawyers in these negotiations would help to solve those questions," he said.

Mr Liam Foran, Chair and co-Founder of Peace Dividend Initiative, spoke of the role that private sector investment can play in helping FCA states transition to stability and development. He emphasized that technology changes and greater capital mobility have allowed for the emergence of a new entrepreneurial class even in the most difficult contexts and this should be seen as a solid pillar upon which to build peace and stability.  

In his view, the WTO should incorporate the private sector more coherently through the accession process and promote greater advocacy of the Trade for Peace Programme to back its successes. "Companies have a critical role to play in maintaining peace and security, and trade is the main method by which they will engage in that. So I think that if you can build a coherent private sector engagement, we can really get some interesting things done over the next couple of years."

Dr David Laborde, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), highlighted the interconnectedness of the challenges associated with food security, climate change, trade and peace. To ensure food security, farmers need peace, while trade is needed to rebalance food supplies for consumers and suppliers, covering food deficits in one area with food surpluses from another, he said. When this careful balance is thrown off, through conflict or climate change, trade is disrupted, productive assets are destroyed, and people are displaced. This in turn can lead to worsening food security.

The WTO has a role to play by keeping trade flowing and protecting the links between and within countries, Dr Laborde added. However, "trade is only one side of the coin". It must be complemented by strong institutions and economic justice to guarantee peace is reached.


The Trade for Peace (T4P) Programme grew out of the vision of the g7+ WTO Accessions Group, which consists of FCA states associated with WTO accession. The Group's goal is to facilitate the integration of FCA states into the multilateral trading system through WTO accession and membership, with a long-term view to strengthening economic and trade policy frameworks and institutions and promoting transparency and good governance.

The Trade for Peace Week is one of the main outreach activities organised under the T4P Programme. The first edition of the T4P Week took place in December 2020, consisting of 10 webinars involving eight partners. In November 2021, the second edition was organized in partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan, focusing on "Trade and Security – Eurasian Perspective".

Activities organized under the Programme, implemented through four pillars, are aimed at exploring and establishing greater understanding on the relationship between trade and peace and, in particular, how trade can contribute positively to the attainment of peace and stability in FCA states.

The T4P Programme highlights the needs and challenges of FCA states as a systemic issue in the WTO. At the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference held in June 2022, the g7+ WTO Accessions Group called for the establishment of a WTO Work Programme on T4P for FCA states by the 13th Ministerial Conference.




Problems viewing this page? If so, please contact [email protected] giving details of the operating system and web browser you are using.