DG Azevêdo launches report on role of trade in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

News

DG Azevêdo launches report on role of trade in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

DG Azevêdo launches report on role of trade in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals
Photo credit: Business Call to Action

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo met UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 3 May 2018 to present him with a new WTO report on how trade is contributing to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The meeting took place at the UN Chief Executives Board session in London. The Director-General addressed the meeting on the current challenges faced by the international community in achieving the SDGs, including the need to resolve the current tensions between some trading partners.

The new publication – entitled “Mainstreaming trade to attain the SDGs” – looks at how engaging in international trade can help countries gain access to new markets and new investments, therefore boosting growth, raising living standards and promoting sustainable development.

The Director General said: “Trade has proved itself to be a powerful force for growth and development around the world. It played a crucial role in the early achievement of the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty. Now we are working to ensure that trade contributes again in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

“WTO members took a big step forward with the 2015 agreement to abolish agricultural export subsidies, which delivered a key target of the SDG on Zero Hunger. This new report examines a wide range of other ways that trade can contribute to this global mission – from tackling harmful fisheries subsidies to boosting the economic capacity of least-developed countries to maintaining and strengthening the multilateral trading system in order to provide the platform of stability and certainty upon which growth and development will continue to rely.”

The report looks at the SDGs from economic, social and environmental perspectives and outlines how trade is contributing to making progress in each of these areas, including through reducing poverty, improving health and tackling environmental degradation.

It outlines a number of steps to help accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs. This includes governments embedding trade policies into their national development plans to spread the benefits of trade more widely and strengthening the multilateral trading system. It also includes action to further lower the costs of world trade, notably by implementing the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement, which establishes procedures for streamlining the flow of goods among WTO members.


Mainstreaming trade to attain the Sustainable Development Goals

The WTO is central to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set targets to be achieved by 2030 in areas such as poverty reduction, health, education and the environment.

This publication looks at the role played by the WTO in delivering the SDGs and identifies a number of steps that would help to ensure that international trade contributes to accelerating progress in achieving these goals.

The publication shows that by delivering and implementing trade reforms which are pro-growth and pro-development and by continuing to foster stable and fair trading relations across the world, the WTO is playing an important role in delivering the SDGs, just as it did with the Millennium Development Goals before them.

The book examines the SDGs from economic, social and environmental perspectives and outlines how trade is contributing to making progress in each of these areas, including through reducing poverty, improving health and supporting efforts to tackle environmental degradation. It also recommends a number of steps to help accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs.

Recommendations on ways to accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs

The publication makes the following recommendations:

  1. Mainstream trade into national and sector strategies to achieve the SDGs.

  2. Strengthen the multilateral trading system so that it can continue supporting inclusive growth, jobs and poverty reduction.

  3. Continue reducing trade costs including through full implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

  4. Build supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure in developing countries and least-developed countries.

  5. Focus on export diversification and value addition.

  6. Enhance the services sector.

  7. Apply flexible rules of origin to increase utilization of preference schemes.

  8. Ensure that non-tariff measures do not become barriers to trade.

  9. Make e-commerce a force for inclusion.

  10. Support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to engage in international trade.