Development: Symposium

Natural Disasters and Trade Symposium

A third Symposium on Natural Disasters and Trade will be held at the WTO on Friday, 10 May 2019 from 09.30 – 12:30  


Many Governments across the world are facing an increasing burden of economic losses and dislocation caused by natural disasters.  Within an interlinked global economy, local events quickly become regional and global shocks.  Ensuring that economic systems are robust enough to withstand hazards and risks, both predictable and unforeseen, will help better deliver the 2030 Agenda and support implementation the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The aim of the Third Symposium on Natural Disasters and Trade is twofold:

  • First, to elaborate the link between trade and disaster resilience. After welcome remarks by WTO Deputy Director General Agah, a key note address will be given on this topic by the Director, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Ms Madi's address will cover ongoing discussions and policy action at the global, regional and national levels in other fora to strengthen the resilience of countries and communities against disasters and options for the trade community to engage therein.
  • Second, to present the findings of disaster-affected country research for Members' consideration and discussion. Country research has been undertaken looking at the macro-economic impact on disaster-affected countries, and trade issues arising in disaster response, recovery and resilience.  Research has focused on Nepal, in the Caribbean on Dominica and Saint Lucia and Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu in the Pacific. 

The draft reports can be consulted using the following hyperlinks:

Comments on the draft reports may be sent up to a deadline of Friday, 17 May 2019. 


09:30 - 09:45

Session 1: Opening of the symposium

  • Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization

09:45 – 10:15

Session 2: Taking resilience forward — engaging the trade community in disaster risk reduction


  • Shishir Priyadarshi, Director, Development Division, WTO

Keynote speakers:

  • Kirsi Madi, Director, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Bradly Felix, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, St Lucia
  • Frances Lisson, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Australia to the WTO
  • Jaime Chissano, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representation of Mozambique to the WTO

10:15 – 12:00

Session 3: Presentation of country research results


  • Giovanna Adinolfi, Professor, University of Milan

Overview of research results:

  • Michael Roberts, Head, Aid for Trade Unit

Comments and reactions:

  • Madhu Kumar Marasini, Joint Secretary, Head of Multilateral Trade and Trade Cooperation, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Nepal
  • Matthan Walter, Director of Trade, Ministry of Trade, Energy and Employment, Dominica
  • Roy Mickey Joy, Ambassador, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Industry, Commerce & Ni-Vanuatu Business
  • Esterlina Kautoke ‘Alipate, Senior Trade Officer, Trade Division, Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, Tonga
  • Vueti May, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Fiji to the WTO

Question and answer session

12:00 – 12:30

Session 4: Next steps

  • Speaker: Michael Roberts, Head, Aid for Trade Unit


Recognizing the impact of disasters on trade, but also the potential role of trade to reduce existing risks, prevent the creation of new risks and build resilience, research has been undertaken since April 2018, with the generous support of the Mission of Australia, on the issue of natural disasters and trade, Two thematic symposiums have been held to date:

  • A first Symposium was held at WTO on 26 April 2018 and examined the nexus between natural disasters and the multilateral trading system. It highlighted the impact of recent natural disasters on several Members' trade and development.
  • On 14 December 2018, a second Symposium surveyed hazards, risks and losses from natural disasters and provided an economic and trade case for investing in resilience. Also outlined was a preliminary scoping of issues arising from the WTO research.



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