The Director-General spoke at the presentation of the 30th Global Trade Alert (GTA) report “Must Do Better: Trade & Industrial Policy and the SDGs.”  The report explores the incidence of trade policies on selected SDGs, drawing upon evidence from thousands of trade, investment, industrial and other measures.

“We can be proud of the WTO's record on SDG targets directly related to the work we do here,” the Director-General said, noting that the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies reached at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) last June directly addresses SDG Target 14.6 on prohibiting certain harmful fisheries subsidies while the MC12 Decision on TRIPS and COVID-19 vaccines is in line with SDG Target 3.3.b on access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines.  Likewise, the 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Decision prohibiting the use of export subsidies and equivalent measures contributes to SDG 2.2.b on enhancing agricultural productive capacity in developing and least developed countries.

“But we cannot stop here, we must do better,” she continued. “The GTA report tells us that for many of the SDGs, measures to open national economies to international trade support efforts to attain the goals.  Alongside action at home, members can help advance the pursuit of the SDGs by delivering results here at the WTO in the months ahead and at MC13 and beyond.”

Some of the issues likely to feature high on the MC13 agenda, the DG said, include building on a comprehensive set of disciplines on fisheries subsidies, achieving an outcome on agriculture with a focus on food security, and ensuring trade's contribution to preparedness for future pandemics, among others.  MC13 will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi the week of 26 February 2024.

Simon Evenett, co-author of the GTA report, presented the main findings to the online seminar, which also included the participation of WTO Deputy Directors-General Anabel González and Xiangchen Zhang, Ambassador José R. Sánchez-Fung from the Dominican Republic, and Eric Olson, Senior Economic Affairs Officer with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The SDGs set targets to be achieved by 2030 in areas such as poverty reduction, health, education and the environment. The SDGs put significant emphasis on the role that trade plays in promoting sustainable development and recognize the contribution that the WTO can make to the 2030 Agenda.

“The main finding of the report is that trade policy can make a positive contribution to the SDG objective,” DDG Zhang said. “This is not something new for us. But the value of the report is that it is based on a sophisticated methodology and a solid database.”

In her concluding remarks, DDG González said:  “I sincerely hope that today's seminar will help delegations here in Geneva and capitals to advance their thinking of the role of trade in attaining the SDGs and importantly, on what concrete actions can be taken at the WTO to move from vision to reality, including in the lead-up to our next ministerial conference in February next year.”

The GTA report “Must Do Better: Trade & Industrial Policy and the SDGs” is available here.




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