A global partnership

The work of the WTO is relevant to achieving a number of the MDGs, but specifically the organization’s core activities fall mainly within the objectives of MDG 8, a global partnership for development. This MDG was born from the recognition that for poorer countries to achieve the other MDGs, it is important to create an international environment that facilitates their attainment by 2015.

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MDG 8 is therefore an important element in the overall structure of the MDGs. While all MDGs are important in helping countries to reach a level of development conducive to the elimination of extreme poverty, MDG 8 is the precondition for all of these goals to be sustainable in the long run.

MDG 8 recognizes that the ability of developing countries to reach sustainable levels of growth often depends on the international environment in which they operate. By acting for a stable, open multilateral trading system, the WTO’s contribution is crucial in building a more favourable global environment for developing countries.

The idea of a “global partnership” is enshrined in the WTO mandate, prescribing the pursuit of international coherence in economic policy-making. The original mandate specifically advises cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, but over the years the WTO has expanded its scope to include cooperation with the UN system, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other international partners on a wide range of issues. Although the extent of such cooperation can vary, this coordination contributes to the creation of a comprehensive approach in addressing multi-faceted global problems and can have positive implications for achieving MDG 8.

The six targets identified under MDG 8 show that the international community recognizes that open trade is an important engine for development. For trade to deliver real economic growth effectively, it needs to be “open, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory”, as recognized in Target A. This corresponds to the WTO’s core business of regulating international trade, reducing market barriers and ensuring a level playing field for all its members.


The six targets identified under MDG 8 show that the international community recognizes that open trade is an important engine for development

Furthermore, the trade opening promoted by the WTO takes into account the development challenges faced by many of its members. It is widely recognized that in international competition poorer countries are faced with much more serious and complex constraints than developed countries. WTO members have therefore committed themselves to ensuring that developing countries, and especially the least-developed countries (LDCs), share in the growth in international trade in keeping with their economic development needs.

In keeping with Target B of MDG 8 – that is, addressing the special needs of the LDCs – the WTO is also committed to working towards enhancing the benefits that can accrue to the poorest of its members. In designing its rules, the WTO recognizes the capacity constraints of these countries in taking on trade-related commitments. It has therefore endeavoured to provide appropriate flexibilities and policy space to the LDCs. The WTO is working closely with the LDCs and with other international organizations to ensure a positive outcome from the United Nations Fourth Conference on LDCs which Turkey will host in 2011.

The WTO also has a work programme for the small island developing states and contributes regularly to the international efforts to address the needs of the landlocked developing countries – in keeping with Target C of MDG 8.

In line with Target E (providing access to affordable medicines in developing countries), WTO members have agreed an amendment to WTO rules to give developing countries greater access to essential drugs, thus contributing to wider national and international action to address public health problems.

Target F (making available the benefits of new technologies) is partly addressed by WTO work to increase flows of technology to developing countries. By identifying technology and innovation as critical drivers of economic growth, the WTO has indicated that technology innovation and its transfer are important for the achievement of the MDGs. WTO members continue to discuss specific steps that might be taken within the mandate of the WTO to further increase flows of technology to developing countries.