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Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies - European University Institute

How do environmental and social objectives affect international trade today?

As the World Trade Organisation's 13th Ministerial Conference takes place in Abu Dhabi, we share insights from participants in the latest edition of the World Trade Forum, where they gathered to discuss challenges and opportunities of the multilateral trading system.

27 February 2024 | Policy dialogue - Video

Ministers from across the world are attending the WTOs conference to review the functioning of the multilateral trading system and its forthcoming agenda. In anticipation of the discussion, we asked participants at the 2023 World Trade Forum, hosted by the Global Governance Programme, to shed light on the challenges and opportunities facing the multilateral trading system today.

Elisabeth Tuerk from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, stated that "Developing countries should be on the table, not just as rule takers but as rule makers". She highlighted the importance of integrating non-economic aspects -- environmental and social -- with economic ones, focusing on the green, digital, and circular transition.

During the interviews, topics ranged from trade and digital economy challenges to environmental issues. Taufiqur Rahman highlighted the challenges faced by the world's most vulnerable nations: “Climate change is looming large, and that's why the world's poorest countries, the Least Developed Countries, are facing the steepest challenge to integrate into the multilateral trading system”.

As the WTO seeks to navigate complex global issues, the insights from the World Trade Forum’s participants underscore the importance of innovative and inclusive approaches to strengthening the multilateral trading system. The recorded interviews not only highlight the key themes of the upcoming Ministerial Conference but also emphasise the critical role of research and dialogue in informing policy decisions.

In her opening speech, directing the focus on non-economic objective within the global trade framework, the WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced the launch of a 50-million dollar fund designed to help female entrepreneurs in developing countries, emphasising that the money is there to enable women to take advantage of the vast opportunities of global trade.

Watch the interviews in the playlist.

Last update: 27 February 2024

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