WTO Public Forum 2021

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The World Trade Organization Public Forum 2021 is being held from September 30 to October 1. IT for Change is participating in two sessions.

Register here to attend the sessions.

On September 30, Parminder Singh will be speaking at the 61st session- "Conditions for appropriate e-commerce in developing countries."

Session Brief: Even before COVID-19, e-commerce was already the most important engine of world trade. A few countries and companies, however, have garnered the lion’s share of benefits from this ongoing process - especially the US and China and their digital platforms. The COVID crisis has not changed this undesirable development, and may possibly accelerate it.
At the same time, trade talks are ongoing at the WTO towards a plurilateral agreement on e-commerce. While transnational corporations are calling for a free flow of data, India, South Africa, and some other developing countries, and even the EU, seek to establish data sovereignty. They are presenting new policies in this regard, including data localization requirements. Does there exist an in-between solution that would be best for developing countries? How should digital trade and data laws be designed for inclusion and poverty reduction? What could be WTO’s role in achieving this goal?

This session's timings are 1330 to 1430 (CET) and is being organized by Bread for the World.

Moderated by Sven Hilbig, Policy Advisor Trade Policy and Digitalization at Bread for the World, it will also have the following speakers:

  • Torbjörn Fredriksson, Chief at ICT Policy Section, UNCTAD     
  • Africa Kiiza, Program Coordinator Trade Policies and Negotiations, Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute, Uganda   
  • Vahini Naidu, Coordinator of the Trade for Development Program

ITforChange will be part of a session it is co-organizing with Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Transnational Institute (TNI), New Economics Foundation (NEF), and Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Third World Institute) (ITeM).

This session is titled "Data as a stock-in-trade in global trade: Looking beyond outdated notions around data flows," and will have Parminder Singh as a speaker on the panel.

Session Brief: Data is universally spoken of as the key economic resource today. Strangely enough, this is not the way data is treated in global digital trade discussions. This paradox is the reason for the global stalemate on the ‘data issue’, inadequately represented as a contest between ‘data flows’ and ‘data constraints’, respectively as good and bad things. Progress can only be made by bringing centre-stage in ‘e-com discussions’ data’s nature as a prime economic resource in a digital economy. Continually discussing data only in terms of privacy, security, trade facilitation, etc., is no longer adequate. Earlier mostly a developing countries’ concern, recent policy developments in some developed countries also highlight the need for focusing directly on economic dimensions of data at the WTO. This Working Session seeks to do so by bringing in experts from both the South and the North.

The panel will be from 1000 to 1100 (CET), Friday, October 1, 2021.

Moderated by Gita Sen, General Coordinator at DAWN, it will also include the following speakers:

  • Vahini Naidu, Coordinator, Trade for Development Program, South Centre   
  • Sofia Scasserra Researcher, Transnational Institute   
  • Ingrid Schneider, Professor, Department of Political Sciences, University of Hamburg   

You can view the full recording of the session here. 

Register for the event through this link.

Find the complete schedule of the program here.