The report underscores the role of trade, fiscal, and monetary policies in achieving the SDGs and supporting sustainable development, and reviews specific efforts on trade-related SDG targets.
The report also considers the potential impact of COVID-19 on global trade.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) released a report for the 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) that highlights the WTO’s efforts to achieve trade-specific targets in the SDGs as well as the organization’s contribution to trade across all the SDGs.
The report titled, ‘WTO Contribution to the 2020 HLPF,’ highlights that the multilateral trading system has contributed to “unprecedented economic development” over the last few decades, and observes that increased certainty over trade policies has resulted in predictability and created the conditions for long-term business planning and investment. The report underscores the role of trade, fiscal, and monetary policies in achieving the SDGs and supporting sustainable development. For example, the report highlights discussions with the WTO Committee on Trade and the Environment on domestic initiatives on waste and chemicals management and recycling and on how trade policy can support the circular economy. In addition, the Aid for Trade initiative contributes to SDG target 8a (increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, particularly least developed countries (LDCs)), and gender-responsive trade policies contribute to increasing women’s participation in global trade (in line with SDG 5) while contributing to economic growth (in line with SDG 8).
The report provides a review of the WTO’s efforts on SDG 14.6 on prohibiting fisheries subsides that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and on SDG 17.10 on promoting a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory, and equitable multilateral trading system. The report states that discussions on reducing harmful fisheries subsidies are playing a critical role in advancing developing countries’ sustainable development objectives.
The report recommends that governments mainstream trade into their national development plans, including by defining a clear national trade policy, ensuring effective institutional coordination, and integrating trade into sector strategies. To support progress on SDG 17.11 (doubling LDCs’ share in global trade by 2020), the report emphasizes the need for measures that address challenges faced by LDCs in international trade to ensure a more equitable distribution of trade benefits.
The report also considers the potential impact of COVID-19 on global trade, and shares steps taken by WTO members to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The report reflects that the COVID-19 crisis has had a “major impact” on global supply and demand, resulting in disruptions of global supply chains for goods and services, and concludes that expectations of recovery in the value of world trade “will need to be revised downwards.” The report welcomes the introduction of fiscal and monetary measures by governments to prevent social lockdowns from creating large-scale business failure and job losses. The WTO emphasizes the importance of maintaining open trade and investment flows to protect jobs, reduce disruptions in global supply chains, and ensure that products are available for all.