2015 Events

Trade as a tool for LDCs' graduation: How can the Multilateral Trading System Deliver on Development?

Dec. 17, 2015. • Nairobi, Kenya

This side event chaired by Ambassador Steffen Smidt, LDC Facilitator looked at the various ways through which the multilateral trading system has fostered development in the past and how the WTO can aid in achieving the goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), in particular what measures can be implemented to facilitate the LDCs in their transition for graduation. Only four countries have graduated out of the LDC category since it was established in 1971.

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Synergizing Trade and Climate Change for Food Security and Livelihoods in the EAC

Dec. 16, 2015. • Nairobi, Kenya

This session organised as part of the ICTSD Trade and Development Symposium on the side lines of the conference aimed to demonstrate how synergizing trade and climate regimes at multilateral, regional and national level can enhance food security and improve livelihoods, in the context of the EAC region. Discussions pointed out that food security is one of the main challenges in East Africa where food production is challenged by extreme weather conditions brought by climate change. While trade can be a tool to mitigate food crises, it is by no means an automatic process and appropriate synergies need to be built with climate change and food security policies. Such synergies are critical since, in their efforts to deal with climate change and food security, governments may for instance adopt trade-related regulatory measures such as taxes, tariffs and subsidies that may be subjected to trade rules and procedures.

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Mega-Regional Trade Agreements and their Impacts on Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trading Regime

Dec. 16, 2015. • Nairobi, Kenya

This event jointly organised with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Geneva Office deliberated the possible challenges developing countries may face from the emergence of mega RTAs and the necessary policy options. It will give a space to various stakeholders to provide inputs on the multiple avenues of possible response, including domestic policy reforms, expanding bilateral and regional trade, and greater engagement at the multilateral level.

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Services Trade: Making it Work for Low- and Lower-Middle Income Countries

Oct. 02, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

This outreach event at the WTO Public Forum presented emerging findings from the project “Support to Enhance Development of Trade in Services Negotiations”, underscoring the importance of services data collection and analysis and inclusive institutional mechanisms. Services represent an increasing share of trade and, while developing countries are willing to be part of the game, their participation in services trade negotiations is faced with many challenges. For instance, they find it difficult to assess competitiveness in Mode4 and hence difficult for us to develop related negotiating positions, since data on this Mode is not captured in existing datasets. The joint project by ILEAP, CUTS and the University of Sussex’s CARIS shed light on some of the good practices for improving data collection and analysis on services. These related to the use of firm-level surveys, availability and quality of human capital, diversification of data sources, and external support among others. The need for functioning institutional and stakeholder interaction mechanisms to support decision-making was another critical factor identified in recent studies by CUTS International. > Read more...

Multilateral Framework on Competition: Is it an effective antidote to counter anti-competitive market distortions for trade to work better?

Oct. 01, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

The issue of a framework multilateral agreement on competition policy within the multilateral trading system has been at the heart of heated debates for at least twenty years, until it was dropped from WTO negotiations as demanded by developing countries. But with the surge of cartels and other anti-competitive practices globally, many of these developing countries have come to appreciate their vulnerability and today 130 countries have adopted competition regulations. The lack of a multilateral framework in this regard poses challenges for governments, consumers and businesses alike. Panelists reviewed possible avenues for reviving a multilateral agenda on trade and competition policy, including through exploring more recent issues such as developing countries’ request for focusing on export cartels rather than international cartels.

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The 10th WTO Ministerial Conference: Discussing a Sufficient Nairobi Outcome

Sep. 16, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

The 10th WTO ministerial conference (MC10) is fast approaching and discussions continued on what could be considered a sufficient outcome at MC10. Forum participants were encouraged to share the three priority elements to their country. This discussion held under the Chatham House rule brought together several developing and developed WTO members to share perspectives and build common understandings in this regard.

EAC Regional Training on Developing Coherent Policies accross Climate, Food and Trade

Sep. 09, 2015. • Nairobi, Kenya

This regional training course acquainted key East African regional stakeholders to the key concepts of climate change, food security and trade and their interrelationships in the policy processes, and real life consequences. They were trained on regional decision-making and policy frameworks in place, as well as relevant international agreements and instuitions. A simulation exercise was included as a unique experience of engaging with others on promoting more coherent policies and programmes. The event was organised in Nairobi, Kenya by CUTS International and the Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa (trapca).

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Rules of Origin: The Private Sector’s Perspective in the EAC

Sep. 08, 2015. • Nairobi, Kenya

Countries put in place preferential Rules of Origin (RoO) as part of a preferential trade agreement to ensure only goods from Partner States enjoy such preferences. Concerns are rising over complex and/or discriminatory RoO, which are increasingly viewed as non-tariff barriers, particularly because there are no agreed international standards for regulating the formulation and application of RoO. This meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya brought together Geneva-based WTO delegates from EAC Partner States and representatives from the civil society to discuss perspectives from the East African private sector on the issue.

The Climate-Trade-Food Security Nexus: After Four Years

Sep. 07, 2015. • Nairobi, Kenya

This last regional annual meeting of the PACT EAC project took stock of four years of many stakeholders’ efforts to enhance policy coherence across the three issues of climate change, food security and trade in the five East African Community Member States. Four years down the road, evidence presented at the event indicate that East African countries are now taking more seriously the interrelations between climate change, food security and trade, with several recent policies taking them into account and institutional processes becoming more inclusive.

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The 10th WTO Ministerial Conference Challenges: Work Programme, Leadership and Nairobi Outcome

July 16, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

This event organised by CUTS and FES Geneva Office sought to positively contribute towards convergence on a balanced Post-Bali Work Programme, by informally bringing together WTO negotiators from both developing and developed countries towards building greater trust with each other.

Book Launch: "Making Competition Reforms Work for People"

Jul. 8, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

On the sidelines of the 7th Review Conference of the UN Set, CUTS International released this publication that sheds light on how competition policy can better work for people. Launched under the title “Making Competition Reforms Work for People: Evidence from Select Developing Countries and Sectors”, the book highlights the need for competition reforms in two central sectors of ordinary people’s lives: staple food and bus transport.

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Seventh Review Conference of the UN Set

Jul. 6, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

In July 2015, UNCTAD hosted the Seventh Review Conference of the founding multilateral agreement on competition policy: the United Nations Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices (UN Set). CUTS was there to update stakeholders around the world on the proceedings. The conference culminated in the adoption of a draft resolution on the revised United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection (now covering aspects of e-commerce, financial services, implementation etc.), as well as the proposed creation of an Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Consumer Protection Law and Policy.

Motor Vehicle Agreement Among the BBIN Group of Countries: Key Concerns, Challenges and Benefits

July. 1, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

CUTS International organized an event on the sidelines of the 5th Aid for Trade WTO forum. This event discussed key concerns, challenges and benefits of the Motor Vehicle Agreement recently signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. It provided a roadmap to these countries on how they can leverage aid for trade for effective implementation of this motor vehicles agreement including the role that India should play in this regard through overseas development assistance to its immediate neighbours.

WTO 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade

June. 30 - July. 2 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

The purpose of the Global Review is to monitor and evaluate Aid for Trade and provide incentives in advancing the Aid for Trade agenda for donors and recipients. 2015 Marks the 5th Global Review session, with the theme of “Reducing Trade Costs for Inclusive, Sustainable Growth.”.The Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, in Geneva was one of the attendees and event organizers.

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WTO Services Negotiations: Special Meeting of the EAC Geneva Forum

May. 15, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

Following a request by East African negotiators to the WTO, CUTS organised this special meeting of the EAC Geneva Forum where delegates could discuss the strategy to adopt in ongoing negotiations towards a Post-Bali Work Programme.

Building Trust and Convergence: Informal Lunch Meeting of WTO Negotiators

May. 13, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

The year 2015 is critical as WTO members work towards a Post-Bali Work Programme to conclude the Doha round. Both developing and developed countries will now have to confront the core issues that have divided them for nearly 15 years and build the necessary trust to find creative solutions. This event organised by CUTS and FES Geneva Office sought to positively contribute towards convergence on a balanced Post-Bali Work Programme, by informally bringing together WTO negotiators from both developing and developed countries towards building greater trust with each other.

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Agro-processing trade: the private sectors’ experience of climate change along the value chain

May. 06, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

All businesses depend on weather and climate no matter their size, location, products and services. In East Africa in particular, the agro-processing industry relies on rain-fed agriculture and is therefore vulnerable to changing climatic conditions. At the 22nd EAC Geneva Forum, East African WTO delegates were updated about such climate change challenges faced by the private sector on the ground. They also discussed WTO negotiation issues related to GATS disciplines on domestic services regulations.

Support to enhance development of trade in services negotiations

May. 06, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

This outreach event aimed to enhance awareness amongst the Geneva trade and development community, notably WTO Delegates, about the series of project interventions underway and offer some insights into some of the emerging lessons and results. It also offered an opportunity to discuss more generally potential future needs of LDCs, LICs, and LMICs in relation to trade in services negotiations, policy-making and implementation.

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Week-long Visit of East African Stakeholders to Geneva

May. 04, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland

In May 2015, East African stakeholders of trade, environment and agriculture were invited by CUTS to Geneva for a week-long visit to acquaint themselves with the multilateral environment at the interplay of these three issues. They had the opportunity to attend trade-related meetings, were briefed by international organisations about the status and their stake in the WTO and UNFCCC negotiations, and interacted with their respective missions based in Geneva.

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Climate, Food, Trade: Taking Stock of Our Impacts on Policy and Practice

Apr. 14, 2015. • East African Community (EAC)

In April 2015, CUTS International and its partners in East Africa hold the final national meetings of food security, climate change and trade stakeholders under the PACT EAC project. Stakeholders took stock of the project's recent successes in shaping policy synergies between the three areas, and contributing to their informed participation at the WTO. With a view to build on this momentum, high-level officials called for a second phase of the project for continued support.

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WTO Agriculture Negotiations in the Post-Bali Work Programme

Jan. 16, 2015. • Geneva, Switzerland | EAC Geneva Forum

Under the multilateral trading system, agriculture has been characterized for decades by policies that seriously distort trade and production. Such policies take the form of high tariff barriers, various domestic support measures through subsidies or market price support and export subsidies or other forms of export-related support. These trade distorting policies have a significant effect on agricultural producers in developing countries, and especially in the most vulnerable ones. Because of these anomalies, those countries cannot fully benefit from their comparative advantages, and their agricultural revenues cannot properly contribute to gross domestic production, employment, rural development or livelihood security. It is therefore critical that the current WTO negotiations deliver a favourable agriculture package that would contribute towards the development needs of developing countries and LDCs more so those dependent on the agricultural sector such as the EAC.

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