Title: Building resilient and sustainable regional and global value chains through the AfCFTA
Organizers: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS)
Description: COVID-19 has shed light on the fragility of Africa’s supply chains, highlighting the urgency to develop more resilient and sustainable regional value chains that can withstand future climate change shocks and respond to growing demand for green goods and services. In building back better, Africa can take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement to advance the green transition. Integrating environmental considerations within the AfCFTA protocols and strategies for implementation also offers an opportunity to develop common African environmental sustainability priorities at multilateral fora, including the UNFCC and WTO. This session will answer the following questions: What actions are required by African policymakers and businesses to fully harness the AfCFTA to further the green transition? How can the AfCFTA be implemented in a way that supports the adoption of environmental standards? How can the AfCFTA be utilized to develop a common African position on trade and environmental sustainability?
Title: Digitalization for development: Benefits for MSMEs in developing countries
Organizer: Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Description: The importance of e-commerce has grown immensely over the past decade. The COVID-19 Pandemic has only given further impetus to these developments. Although some existing WTO rules apply to digital trade, more needs to be done to make WTO rules fit for 21st century trade. This session will in a vibrant, interactive and dynamic way discuss the concrete benefits that the JSI on e-commerce may provide for entrepreneurs, in particular for MSMEs in developing countries. Topics to be discussed include affordable connectivity, trade in ICT-goods and market access, and the importance of trust and security in the digital economy. Negotiators have already been able to agree at a technical level on a number of topics, including on spam and e-signatures. These promising results highlight the excellent opportunity to contribute through these negotiations to closing the digital divide, with direct benefits for businesses and consumers.
Title: From half-ripe to fully digital – How to support resilient food systems through digital trade processes
Organizer: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Description: To keep trade flowing during the pandemic, governments rushed to transform paper-based documents into digital ones. For example, some governments started accepting PDF versions of phytosanitary certificates. There was also a four-fold increase in the number of countries using the ePhyto Hub and digitising other types of certificates also gained traction. Digital solutions help reducing time and cost of trade, support safe and fair agricultural trade, and allow for contactless processes. However, a year and a half on, it is evident that the digitalisation triggered by the pandemic is insufficient for creating resilient food systems in the long term and for realising the full gains from paperless processes. For this, trade processes need to be fully, truly digitalised. This session brings together public and private sector experts to delve into what it takes to fully digitalise a trade process and how implementation can be expanded globally.
Title: Aligning the goals of FTA provisions on sustainable development to multilateral sustainable objectives
Organizers: Federation of German Industries (BDI) and Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (SN)
Description: This session has the objective of identifying similarities, common goals and possible sources of conflict between FTAs and the greater WTO context in the area of sustainable development. The WTO has already contributed to global sustainable development, but much more can and should be done to meet to the challenges of today and tomorrow. As more and more countries include trade and sustainable development (TSD) provisions in their trade agreements, it becomes vital to discuss ways countries can align the goals of their TSD chapters to the greater WTO aims. Now that the structured discussions on trade and environmental sustainability have been launched, it is relevant to discuss concrete areas and provisions in FTAs that would fit into this discussion. Public and private sector representatives from Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and the European Commission will discuss this with a focus on TSD chapters in FTAs of their countries/the EU.
Title: Inclusion by example: How women can create sustainable trade policy after COVID
Organizer: Trade Experettes (TEs)
Description: Women setting examples and leading other women can be a major driving force for a more gender equal world. Trade has been faring worse than some other fields in gender equality, though with the Buenos Aires Declaration, trade agreements with gender inclusion, and other ongoing work it seemed to have changed, until the COVID-19 pandemic showed that there are more and deeper changes needed to make this progress sustainable. This all-female panel will discuss their own experiences trying to lead the world to a more gender-inclusive trade policy. Rebalancing the global economy that has started in 2021 has to incorporate the best of best practices to make this time the world more robust in gender equality. The diversity of the speakers, which goes beyond their regional and professional backgrounds, will offer the audience an interesting variety of perspectives on these topics.
Title: Reforming the TRIPS agreement to respond effectively to the public health challenges
Organizer: Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID)
Description: The COVID-19 has exposed the world to new challenges in public health that call for use of a range of medical products – PPEs, diagnostics, medical devices, therapeutics and vaccines. Access to these products is highly inequitable and scaling up of production faces some major challenges including from intellectual property rights (IPRs). The compulsory licensing provision of the TRIPS Agreement is extremely cumbersome when several patents covering the product are spread across the value chain. The Agreement does not provide for public health exemptions in the case of other IPRs involved in the COVID-related products – copyrights, industrial designs and undisclosed information. Addressing these challenges would require the integration of various kinds of technologies. This session seeks to discuss the reforms of the Agreement that may enable it to respond to such public health challenges, the incidence of which is likely to rise in the future with climate change.