WTO Public Forum 2017 Panel: “New tools for enhanced transparency and better trade governance: what role for the private sector organisations?”

The “New tools for enhanced transparency and better trade governance: what role for the private sector organisations?” panel took place on day 1 of the 2017 WTO Public Forum in Geneva.

This panel, which I organised under the auspices of KPMG, focused on the question of what role the private and public sector should play in the process of making trade more inclusive.

With the rapid changes in production and consumption patterns, the evolving trade environment and innovative ways of doing business enabled by new technologies, it is becoming crucial for trade policy to keep up with business reality. Any disconnect on this front can lead to trade inefficiencies, lower participation and an increase in non-tariff barriers to trade.

On a multilateral level, recent efforts, such as the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, seek to increase participation in global trade and minimise the impact of administrative and procedural barriers to trade. Trade facilitation and customs cooperation provisions, as well as post-implementation committees, are also becoming a feature of modern trade agreements. However, various aspects of the preferential origin regime and restrictive rules of origin prevent businesses of all sizes from taking advantage of trade agreements. On both multilateral and bilateral levels, non-tariff barriers remain an obstacle to participation in global trade.

Within this context, the panel and the following discussions sought to explore new and innovative ways of establishing dialogue and promoting cooperation between different actors within the global trade space. The panel consisted of the following presentations:

 

Dr Anna Jerzewska, “Better trade governance? What is the role for private and public sector organisations?” 

I spoke about the role of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade. I used examples from my work with private sector clients to illustrate how increased cooperation between the government (policy-makers) and companies (policy-‘users’) could help to reduce the impact of a number of these barriers.

 

Wolfgang Lehmacher (Head of Supply Chain and Transport Industries at the World Economic Forum), “Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation”

Wolfgang presented the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, a public–private platform to leverage business expertise, leadership and resources to support effective trade facilitation reforms in order to foster broad-based opportunities and economic growth in both developing and the least developed countries.

 

Dr Lucian Cernat (Chief Economist at DG Trade EU Commission), “Towards an inclusive EU trade policy”

Lucian presented the EU’s online platforms designed to support companies of all sizes in importing and exporting goods to and from the EU. He stressed the importance of such NTBs as the sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and labelling requirements for SMEs.

 

Anastassia Beliakova (Head of Trade Policy, British Chambers of Commerce), “A New UK Trade Policy: How will the UK government engage with stakeholders?”

Anastassia spoke about the need for greater business engagement while the UK sets a new trade policy strategy for the post-Brexit era and she stressed the importance of the UK government establishing a more formal engagement mechanism.

 

The final comments were made by Hector Torres (former executive director at the International Monetary Fund and coordinator of various WTO programmes).

Please contact me for further details regarding the event or presentations.