September 7, 2023
The role of trade in helping countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is highlighted in a new WTO report submitted to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The report also underlines the WTO’s contribution to improving livelihoods and making trade work for people. To increase awareness about the SDGs, the WTO is also showcasing the role of trade in attaining these goals in an exhibition taking place in Geneva from September 7, 2023.
The WTO report analyses the trade performance of developing economies in 2022 and emphasizes the contribution of trade to achieving the five SDGs reviewed at the 2023 Forum:
- Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation
- Goal 7 on affordable and clean energy
- Goal 9 on industry innovation and infrastructure
- Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities
- Goal 17 on partnerships for the goals
On SDG 6, the report notes the essential role played by trade in services in supplying water for consumption and for the treatment of wastewater. It also underscores the importance of public-private partnerships to help developing economies improve water supply and sanitation services. The report also examines “indirect trade in water”, the trading of water-intensive products, particularly in the agricultural sector.
On SDG 7, the report emphasizes the role of international trade cooperation in facilitating trade and investment in affordable and clean energy products and services. Stepping up regional and multilateral cooperation will help address the trade barriers to adopting and diffusing low carbon and energy efficient technologies. The report notes that opening up trade in cleaner and renewable energy products and energy efficient products could raise global exports of these goods by 5 per cent by 2030.
On SDG 9, the report stresses that industry innovation can be promoted through the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the WTO’s plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement and initiatives such as Aid for Trade. These agreements and initiatives can help governments adopt and implement policies aimed at supporting the creation of fruitful ecosystems for innovation, technology transfer and industrialization. The report also looks at how governments are using subsidies in their industrial policies and why multilateral cooperation on subsidies is important for a transparent, open and predictable multilateral trading system.
On SDG 11, the report notes how sustainable tourism serves as a source of revenue, contributing to bolstering economic growth in cities and communities. International trade in sustainable goods and environmental services will be essential as cities across the world innovate to lower greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change and address resource depletion and waste generation. The WTO can help open trade further, allowing domestic producers of green goods and services to tap into rapidly growing global markets.
On SDG 17, the report delves into the WTO’s partnerships with other international organizations and development partners and the impact of these partnerships on improving the capacity of developing and least-developed economies to participate more fully in international trade. These include the Standards and Trade Development Facility, the Enhanced Integrated Framework, the Codex Alimentarius Commission for Food Safety, the Organisation for Animal Health, the International Trade Centre, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the International Plant Protection Convention. An example of partnership in 2023 was the WTO’s participation in the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs (LDC5) held in March in Doha, Qatar, and in the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action for LDCs.
The Forum took place from 10 to 19 July in New York. It is organized annually under the auspices of the UN’s Department for Economic and Social Affairs. This year’s programme can be found here.
The WTO’s report can be found here.
Organized by the WTO, the SDGs exhibition is taking place in Geneva’s Parc des Bastions from 7 September to 1 October. An official launch will be attended by Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and senior government officials on 14 September.
Information on the exhibition is available here.
More information on the WTO and the SDGs can be found here.
Previous WTO reports to the HLPF
UN members adopted, in 2016, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contains the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs reflect the understanding that development is closely linked with economic growth, social well-being and environmental sustainability and that the SDGs offer the most effective and flexible way to address conflict, human rights issues, poverty and inequality as well as climate change and environmental degradation around the world.
The UN recognises that trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction that contributes to sustainable development. International trade accounts for over 50 per cent of low-income countries’ GDP and is an important source of income for both the private and public sector in developing economies.
Trade enhances a country’s income-generating capacity, an essential prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.