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MPs meet to discuss sustainable trade at the WTO Public Forum

Report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretariat, Geneva

Although many countries and people have benefited from global trade, work still remains to be done to make sure that these benefits are equally distributed and that no one is left behind. How can parliaments ensure this?

To look at how parliaments can contribute to more sustainable trade, the IPU and the European Parliament organized a parliamentary session during the 2017 World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum on 26 September. The session—which took place in the framework of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO (PCWTO)—focused on “Making trade fair: The contribution of parliaments”.

The parliamentary session was part of a series of interactive debates that allowed parliamentarians to interact with government officials, civil society representatives, the private sector and other stakeholders. Speakers included Malik Pervez, Minister of Commerce and Textiles of Pakistan; Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Joseph Hyacinthe Owona Kono, an MP from Cameroon; Helmut Scholz, a Member of the European Parliament; and Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of Fair Trade Advocacy.

Participants discussed the concrete actions parliaments could take to make global trade more sustainable, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals; reversing the growing mistrust of global trade that is fuelling populism; and making sure that trade can help respond to the major challenges facing economies, such as poverty and climate change. They emphasized the importance of a common understanding of fair trade and political commitment on the part of politicians to make fair trade a reality.

On 27 September, the Steering Committee of the PCWTO convened at IPU Headquarters to discuss preparations and possible outcomes for the 2017 Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, to be held in Buenos Aires during the WTO Ministerial Conference on 10-13 December.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Geneva