Global trade blueprint unveiled at Davos

25 January 2016

Measures to boost sustainable development, ensure food security and combat climate change are included in a new blueprint for strengthening the global trade and investment system, unveiled at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos.

The WEF and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development worked together with a group of experts, known as the E15 Initiative, to produce the report Strengthening the Global Trade and Investment System in the 21st Century. It includes proposals for integrating free trade and investment agreements and adapting regulations to reflect changes in global value chains, the digital economy, services, climate change and sustainable development targets over the next decade.

A report outlined measures aimed at advancing some of the international community’s shared priorities. These include boosting global growth and employment, with more specific measures such as initiating negotiations to establish a Plurilateral Digital Trade Agreement aimed at boosting internet-enabled trade, as well as reducing commercial friction and investment uncertainty by establishing a “global value chain partnership”.

This would be a public-private platform to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of global supply chains, and would facilitate cooperation between governments wanting to integrate their economies into international supply chains, the report said.

Other priorities outlined in the report are: accelerating sustainable development in least-developed countries, with specific measures such as increasing financing for trade-related development and ensuring food security by driving transparency in agricultural market data; and government support to avoid trade distortions.

The report also outlines measures aimed at achieving other goals, such as increasing economic diversification and competitiveness in middle-income countries, combating climate change and environmental degradation, preserving national policy space to make societal choices and strengthening the legitimacy of the global trading system.

The proposals are the result of a two-year process involving 375 experts from around the world, various task forces, and other institutions.

Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, CEO of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, said: “The E15 proposals respond to changes in the global trade and investment system and provide concrete principles and measures to ensure that governance in this area advances sustainable development.”

The report will be used in 2016-17 to encourage a worldwide dialogue on the implications of this blueprint on how trade strategy is set and administered, the WEF said.

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