What is the Geneva Trade and Development Forum?
The Forum is an enduring platform – and a novel experience – for reflection, innovation, debate and dialogue. It intends to addresses the specific challenges and opportunities of developing countries trying to reap the benefits from globalization and trade liberalization. The Forum offers a much needed neutral environment away from the negotiating table for all stakeholders, where the needs and interests of the poorer countries and the use of trade as a development tool will be at the centre of discussions. The Forum is intended to be practical, action-oriented and concentrating on the “how” rather than the “what”.
Why a new forum on trade and development?
It is now clear that the Doha Round is not going to deliver expected development-oriented results. Several studies show that whatever the result of the Round will be, poorer countries will not gain or will even loose. The situation shows that negotiations under their current form are not satisfactory. However, globalization and international trade are powerful tools that can be harnessed to fight poverty. The current approach towards integrating poorer countries into the world economy simply has its limits. Clearly, there is a need to engage in a new reflection process to come up with fresh ideas and out of the box thinking to define new strategies and approaches to help integrate the poorer countries into the world economy.
Currently, there is no forum where these issues can be discussed dispassionately and in a constructive manner among all relevant actors. The Geneva Trade and Development Forum has been established as a timely answer to this gap.
What are the main objectives of the conference?
1. Raise awareness of poorer countries on important new issues and stimulate their reflection.
2. Identify with disadvantaged countries key and pressing upcoming topics of interest to them. The GTDF currently focuses on four initiatives:
- Fostering an inclusive international trade architecture
- Brainstorming on environmental standards
- Deepening the understanding of industrial policies
- Encouraging a more development-friendly WTO accession process
The choice of the initiatives will evolve according to the evolution of the context and the positions of poorer countries.
3. To elaborate strategies and proposal to defend disadvantaged countries' interests in relation with the upcoming issues through the establishment of constituencies for change.
4. To promote the contact with key powers and encourage the introduction of their concerns as soon as possible in their decision-shaping process.
What is the link with the WTO and the Doha Round?
The Conference is not a platform to engage or pursue any negotiations related to the Doha Round agenda. Furthermore, topics and issues covered by the Conference are not limited to the scope of the WTO but are related to the broader field of trade and development.
The GTDF works closely with Geneva-based delegations to the WTO and the WTO secretariat.