19 Sep 2017

WTI participates in WTO Public Forum

Researchers from the World Trade Institute will be taking part in this year’s World Trade Organization Public Forum on the theme of ‘Trade behind the headlines’.

The three-day Forum (26-28 September) in Geneva offers the opportunity to discuss the benefits provided by trade as well as the challenges it can bring, according to the organisers. Trade has provided employment opportunities for some and unemployment challenges for others. The WTO argues that trade must be made more inclusive so that it works for all, particularly the most vulnerable.

A WTI roundtable session on ‘More and Better Jobs?’ from 14.00 to 15.30 on 26 September will look at the design and socio-economic impact of labour provisions in trade agreements. Many trade agreements include labour provisions (LPs) that link the benefits of preferential market access to, for example, the enforcement of internationally recognised worker rights, thereby offering the prospect of more and better jobs. But much variation exists with respect to their scope and depth as some agreements include far-reaching and highly enforceable LPs whereas others only make shallow references to labour standards.

Led by Professor Damian Raess, the session will take stock of academic research and country experiences on important issues central to forging inclusive and sustainable development.

The session will be moderated by Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, Director, Economic Law and Policy programme, International Institute for Sustainable Development. The speakers will be Prof. Raess; Yorgos Altintzis, Economic and Social Policy Officer, International Trade Union Confederation; Valérie Berset Bircher, Deputy Head of the International Labour Affairs Division of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs; Fabio De Franceschi, Policy Officer at the Directorate General for Trade at the European Commission, in charge of labour affairs and fair and ethical trade; and Fernando Pimentel, President of the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association.

WTI alumnus Dr Marina Foltea, the founder and managing director of Geneva-based global trade and investment advisorsTrade Pacts, will moderate a session at 10.00 on 28 September on ‘Learning to trade globally: what should SMEs know’.

On the same day from 13.00 to 14.00, Professor Manfred Elsig will be presenting his new book Assessing the World Trade Organization: Fit for Purpose? along with co-authors Bernard Hoekman and Joost Pauwelyn at a ‘Meet the Author’ session. The book takes stock of the WTO's achievements over its 20 year existence, and considers important issues such as the origins of the multilateral system, the accession process and the WTO's interaction with other international organisations.

The Public Forum is the WTO’s largest annual outreach event. It provides a platform for heads of states, parliamentarians, leading global business people, students, academics and non-governmental organisations to come together and debate on a wide range of WTO issues and on some of the major trade and development topics of the day. Over 1,500 participants attend the Forum each year.

The full programme can be found here.