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The Urgent Case for Trade Facilitation and Aid for Trade

Date: March 17 - 19, 2009

Venue: Geneva, Switzerland

Description: Today is a time of global economic crisis and challenges to international trade.  There is rising potential for protectionist responses to the crisis and continued difficulties with the Doha negotiations, among other factors. Moving forward the agenda of trade facilitation reform multilaterally and through other means with the support of aid for trade initiatives seems ever more important. Such an agenda should in particular build upon the positive results of the WTO negotiations on Trade Facilitation and take advantage of new interest in aid for trade.

Better trade facilitation will mitigate, over the short term, some of the new challenges of lower demand (and the implications on tariff revenues and exports), and increased trade costs (such as difficult access to trade finance). Reform is also important in the medium term in helping countries improve their resilience to external shocks: easier and more diversified trade and ultimately more robust growth is one factor that could help.

How is trade facilitation reform relevant to the current global crisis? Why is it a long term necessity in an interdependent world? What are the priories ahead over the short and long-term in the trade facilitation agenda, as they relate to development prospects?

This dialogue will address next steps to inform the trade facilitation and development agendas, including talks at the World Trade Organization, aid for trade strategies, and steps to promote domestic and regional reform. While Doha negotiations are on hold, useful work continues to be done around trade facilitation by negotiators and Annex D organizations as well as the MDBs on the development agenda.


10:00 - 10:30 amWelcome
HE Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Mauritius to United Nations

Richard Newfarmer, Special Representative to the UN and WTO, World Bank 

10:30 - 11:15 am  Morning Session - How Trade Facilitation Reform Matters

Chair: Shishir Priyadarshi, Director, Development, WTO

Trade Facilitation: Recent Trends and Crisis Challenges

Jean-Christophe Maur, Senior Economist, World Bank Institute: Implications of the current global climate for facilitation reform
Scott Stevenson, Manager, International Finance Corporation Trade finance and the crisis 

 11:30 - 12:45 pmMoving Ahead: Aid for Trade and the Multilateral Agenda

John S. Wilson, Lead Economist, World Bank
Aid for trade and trade facilitation: what are the links and does it matter?

Gerard McLinden, Senior Trade Facilitation Specialist, World Bank
Lessons from the needs assessment process: Implications for implementation of new WTO trade facilitation disciplines 

2:00 - 3:00 pmAfternoon Session -  An Agenda for Action

Chair:Richard Eglin, Director Trade and Finance Division, WTO

Projects on the Ground: Examples of donor initiatives

Tom Pengelly, The UK’s Regional Trade Programs in Africa*
Elena Brynn, The United States: Policy and Projects in Trade Capacity Building 

3:00 - 4:00 pm Closing Remarks and Next Steps

Mona Haddad, Sector Manager, International Trade Department, World Bank

H.E. Eduardo Eduardo Spierson-Yurt, Chair of the WTO Trade Facilitation Negotiations Committee 


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