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The biennial Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium, organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and held alongside the WTO ministerial conference for over a decade, is the leading multi-stakeholder platform for intellectual enquiry and dialogue on sustainable development and the global trade and investment system. It acts as an inclusive platform outside of the WTO negotiating setting for sharing ideas, engaging in dialogue, and influencing trade policy negotiations. Drawing in participants from government, business and civil society, the Symposium helps to maintain and elaborate a global vision of sustainable development in trade and investment policymaking.

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Inclusion and Development [clear filter]
Monday, December 11

5:00pm GMT-03

E-commerce and MSMEs: Towards more inclusive trade

E-commerce has opened a gateway of new opportunities for micro, small, medium and micro enterprises (MSMEs), to access international markets, find new sources of demand and build value through exposure to new technologies. Supported by social media, digital promotion and e-commerce platforms, MSMEs can promote their products and services to professional buyers and consumers across the world, and build a name for themselves beyond their geographical borders.

Evidence reveals that, in relative terms, women entrepreneurs are significantly more active in  e-commerce than in traditional trade. E-commerce therefore has a strong potential to contribute to closing the gender gap in international trade.

Developing countries are taking advantage of e-commerce and e-solutions. According to GSMA, an association of mobile operators, by 2020 there will be more than 700 million smartphone connections in Africa, which is twice the projected number in North America and around the total in Europe. 

Beyond this optimistic picture there are challenges, especially for MSMEs in developing countries.  Significant barriers exist for these MSMEs to establish an online presence internationally, and opportunities are most often limited to the domestic market. Moreover, firm-level data show that there is a significant connectivity gap for women-owned or managed firms.

There are still far too few e-commerce platforms that operate internationally out of developing countries. Furthermore, logistics costs are relatively higher in developing countries, hindering e-commerce transactions from this group. These challenges matter, because e-commerce offers great potential to deliver economic growth, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, both for the MSMEs directly active in the business and in a wide range of supporting services. Absence from international e-commerce is a missed opportunity. It is an important component of modern competitiveness. 

Access to digital technologies underpins the ambitions behind many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – and e-commerce can be an important engine for inclusive economic growth, creating jobs for youth and empowering women. Being online levels the playing field when it comes to gender as the share of women-owned firms doubles when moving from traditional offline trade to cross-border e-commerce.

Findings from the ITC MSME E-Commerce Competitiveness Survey and ITC’s contribution to the Aid for Trade at a Glance 2017 on closing the small business and gender gap will be discussed during the session to illustrate the potential for a more inclusive e-commerce ecosystem for MSMEs and for women entrepreneurs in developing countries, and showcase how effective trade policy can help support this.

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avatar for Marion Jansen

Marion Jansen

Chief Economist, International Trade Centre
Marion Jansen is the Chief Economist of the International Trade Centre (ITC), responsible for ITC’s flagship publication “SME Competitiveness Outlook” and the institution’s recent publications on e-commerce. She also oversees ITC’s work on export strategies. Marion previously... Read More →

avatar for Chandrajit Banerjee

Chandrajit Banerjee

General Director, Confederation of Indian Industry
Chandrajit Banerjee has been with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for over 30 years and since 2008 as its Director General. He has led many CII initiatives on economic and industry related policies. He has also been working for the Indian Industry to enhance competitiveness... Read More →
avatar for Alexander Mora Delgado

Alexander Mora Delgado

Ministro, Ministerio de Comercio Exterior Costa Rica
Alexander Mora was appointed Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica on May 8 2014. As Foreign Trade Minister, Mr. Mora oversees Costa Rica´s foreign trade and investment portfolios, as well as the relationship with multilateral organizations like the WTO, OECD, SIECA, among others. Mr... Read More →
avatar for Arancha González

Arancha González

Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC)
Arancha González has served as Executive Director of ITC, the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, since September 2013. Before joining ITC, Ms. González was Chief of Staff to World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy from 2005 to 2013... Read More →
avatar for François Martins

François Martins

Manager for Government Relations and Public Policy, Mercado Libre
François Martins is Mercado Libre’s (NASDAQ:MELI) manager for Government Relations and Public Policy based in Brazil. François builds bridges between Mercado Libre’s business needs and the public sector's programmes and goals to achieve a better and sounder business environement... Read More →
avatar for Mr. Alioune Sarr

Mr. Alioune Sarr

Minister of Commerce, Informal Sector, Consumer Affairs, Promotion of Local Products and SMEs, Senegal
Before being appointed to the Government of Senegal, Mr. Alioune Sarr was Director General of the Senegalese Agency for Export Promotion (ASEPEX). In this position he launched major projects and conducted missions for the positioning of products and services “Made in Senegal... Read More →
avatar for Longyue Zhao

Longyue Zhao

Professor and Dean, School of International Governance Innovation, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Dr. Longyue Zhao is an experienced international economist in China. He currently is an University Professor and Dean of the School of International Governance Innovation at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. The School is focus on issues of the WTO, international rule making... Read More →

Monday December 11, 2017 5:00pm - 6:30pm GMT-03
Theater - San Martin Bolsa de Cereales, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tuesday, December 12

10:45am GMT-03

Making trade work for gender equality: From evidence to action
Establishing clear links between trade policy and overarching goals, including gender equality and women's economic empowerment, is critical to contribute to making trade a tool for sustainable development.  Closing gender gaps in the economic domain will not only advance women's economic empowerment but also support progress towards achieving the SDGs.
Trade policy is not gender neutral. The distributional outcomes of trade vary between women and men. Moreover, women are not a homogenous group and, therefore, they are differently impacted by trade depending on their income, position in the labour market, educational level, ethnicity, etc. If trade policies are designed without taking into account their gender-specific outcomes, these policies risk magnifying existing gender gaps.
There are at least three ways for making trade policy more gender sensitive. The first one is to complement the assessment of the risks and benefits of trade policy for a country as a whole with an analysis of its potential impacts on those who risk being "left behind", including women and girls. Such an ex-ante gender impact assessment may lead to the re-thinking of planned trade reforms, may point to the need for accompanying measures, or may indicate the need for scaling up the trade measures because of their expected positive impact.  UNCTAD has developed a methodological approach for the ex-ante gender impact assessment of trade reforms, the Trade and Gender Toolbox, and has successfully tested it in East Africa. The second way to make trade policy more responsive to the specific need of women is to include gender considerations in the text of the trade measures, including trade agreements. Recently, gender issues have started to be addressed in specific trade and gender chapters of trade agreements. This is for instance the case of the  Chile-Uruguay and Canada-Chile FTAs.  
Finally, a third way to make trade policy more gender sensitive points to the need of ensuring policy coherence between trade and other policies and an enabling environment at all levels. For instance, developing countries' participation in GVCs have created large-scale employment and skill development opportunities for women. Such opportunities have, however, been accompanied by some risks that need to be addressed by appropriate flanking measures.

Additional information on the event and related documents

UNCTAD events on the margins of the Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference

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avatar for Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz

Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz

Chief Executive, International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development
Ricardo MELÉNDEZ-ORTIZ (@RMelendezOrtiz) is co-founder of ICTSD and has been its Chief Executive since 1996. Previously, he co-founded and was General Director of Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Quito). He has represented Colombia as a negotiator in several multilateral fora, including as permanent delegate of Colombia... Read More →

avatar for Alicia Bárcena

Alicia Bárcena

Executive Secretary, UNECLAC
Alicia Bárcena is the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) where she previously held the positions of Deputy Executive Secretary and Director of the Environment and Human Settlements Division. Prior to her time in ECLAC, Alicia... Read More →
avatar for François-Philippe Champagne

François-Philippe Champagne

Minister of International Trade, Canada
François-Philippe Champagne was elected the Member of Parliament for Saint-Maurice-Champlain on October 19, 2015. A few weeks later, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance of Canada, a position he held until January 10, 2017, when he was appointed Minister... Read More →
avatar for Isabelle Durant

Isabelle Durant

Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
Ms. Isabelle Durant (Belgium) took office as Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD on 3 July 2017. Ms. Durant had a distinguished career in Belgian and European politics. She held the offices of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transport and Energy and Senator in the Belgian Government... Read More →
avatar for H.E. Terhi Hakala

H.E. Terhi Hakala

Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations Office
Ambassador Hakala was appointed Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office, WTO and other international organizations in Geneva in September 2016. Prior to that she served as Director-General of the Department of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the... Read More →
avatar for Rodolfo Nin Novoa

Rodolfo Nin Novoa

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uruguay
Rodolfo Nin Novoa was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay in March 2015. He was formerly Vice President of Uruguay from 2005 to 2010. As a senator during the period 1999-2004 and 2010-2015, he presided several Parliament Commissions. Prior to his public career, Chancellor... Read More →
avatar for Oscar Stenström

Oscar Stenström

State Secretary to the Minister, EU Affairs and Trade
Oskar Stenström is State Secretary to the Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, Mrs. Ann Linde, at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden with the responsibility for EU affairs, trade policy, EU single market as well as promotion of trade, investment and Sweden. From 2014 to 2016... Read More →
avatar for Simonetta Zarrilli

Simonetta Zarrilli

Chief of the Trade, Gender and Development Programme, UNCTAD
Simonetta Zarrilli is the chief of the Trade, Gender and Development Programme of UNCTAD and the organization's Gender Focal Point. Under her leadership, the Programme provides analytical and policy support to member countries on the gender implications of trade policy, and trains... Read More →

Tuesday December 12, 2017 10:45am - 12:10pm GMT-03
Theater - San Martin Bolsa de Cereales, Buenos Aires, Argentina