The WTO Public Forum is the world’s largest annual gathering on trade and related issues. It is an opportunity for stakeholders from all walks of life to discuss the most pressing trade challenges facing the world today and to build consensus on how to address them. This year’s forum was held from September 12 to 15, 2023, at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme of the forum was “It is time for action.”
The Federal Republic of Lostisland was represented at the WTO Public Forum 2023 by Professor Aniebiet Inyang Ntui, Honorary Consul of Lostisland to Nigeria, who attended all the plenary sessions of the forum virtually. Professor Aniebiet Inyang Ntui’s participation in the forum was an opportunity for Lostisland to learn more about the latest developments in global trade; network with officials, business leaders, academics, and civil society representatives; and share insights, ideas, and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing the global trade landscape.
The forum featured an array of enlightening sessions, including discussions on trade’s role in addressing climate change and facilitating a sustainable future. One notable highlight was the launch of a new publication during the forum, which delved into how WTO members utilize various international agreements and conventions beyond the WTO framework to implement export regulations in alignment with objectives such as environmental protection, hazardous waste management, weapons control, and combatting the illegal drugs trade.
Furthermore, participants in a session on September 15 explored the potential of a WTO Agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) in creating opportunities for developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and pave the way for a more sustainable future. This session revealed substantial progress in IFD talks and welcomed two new WTO members, Bolivia and Tonga, to the negotiations.
A high-level panel discussion on September 14th emphasized the importance of empowering vulnerable communities in decision-making processes to tackle the complex challenges posed by climate change. Participants stressed the significance of adopting a holistic approach that embraces diverse perspectives to develop comprehensive strategies, ultimately working towards a sustainable future for communities worldwide. A newly launched WTO book on trade and gender, unveiled on September 14th, examined ways to bolster women’s participation in international trade. It highlighted how women’s economic empowerment can be a driving force behind trade growth and economic development. The book, presented during the Forum, synthesized the latest research on the role of trade policy in enhancing gender equality.
Photo: WTO Public Forum Press Corps