On 22 October, Italy approved, together with other G7 countries, the Joint Communiqué on the future of international trade. Building on the previous session back in May, the G7 Trade Ministers reinforced their commitment to build back better following the pandemic, putting front and centre the benefit that free, fair, and sustainable trade can provide to their citizens.

The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference was the first matter discussed. The Seven main shared objective is to present a united front aimed at fostering a rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization at its heart. Trade and health are considered deeply correlated, as showed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the field of international IP law. The WTO is deemed crucial in establishing a sustainable discipline on harmful fisheries subsidies and agriculture through the complete application of the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation. The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference will be ideally the place to address all the challenges unique to the 21st century: environmental sustainability, climate change and gender.

According to the G7 vision, the WTO will have to undergo a reform process to guarantee more inclusivity. To achieve this, the WTO should be thus able to build a more viable and durable multilateral trading system. In doing so, the effectiveness of the Organization’s monitoring, negotiating, and dispute settlement functions must be improved. The Communiqué also acknowledges that in such a rules-based system, transparency and dialogue among members is paramount.

The Communiqué explicitly states that this persistent opaqueness undermines the integrity of the global market, favouring unfair trade practices. So, following what was previously agreed by G20 members, G7 governments chose to underline their commitment to working with like-minded partners to address this lack of transparency. The role of the OECD in this effort will be of utmost relevance as it is expected to keep on its excellent analysis work. Practices such as market-distorting industrial subsidies and trade-distorting actions by state enterprises will be countered through all the means deemed necessary. The protection of workers through the elimination of state-sponsored forced labour of vulnerable groups and minorities is also believed to play a part in correcting the distortion in the global supply chains.

G7 members also focused on the need to update the rules of the game, given the growing focus on the digital side of trading. Like physical markets, digital ones should be free and open, incorporating safeguards for workers, consumers, and businesses. Efforts should be intensified to tackle the digital divide and to build the capacities of developing countries.

Implementing the Paris Agreement and transitioning to net-zero emissions means being aware of the negative effect that carbon leakage may have on the climate. Solutions should be pursued on the international and domestic levels, working with international organizations and supporting each state efforts in this sector. Discussion on trade in international fora should also revolve around its role in tackling climate change.

Source: Ministero degli esteri


Featured image: official logo via G7 2021 website.