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Executive Summary, Synthesis Report and Full Report

Strengthening the Global Trade and Investment System in the 21st Century

World trade has experienced a significant slowdown since the 2008 financial crisis. Over this period, the global ratio of trade expansion to income growth has halved. An effective global trade and investment system is crucial for reinvigorating economic growth and confronting 21st century global challenges. Yet the system— well performing as it is in many of its functions—is out of date and in need of greater coherence.

It is this reality that led the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the World Economic Forum, and 16 partnering institutions to bring together more than 375 international experts in over 80 interactive dialogues between 2012 and 2015 under the E15 Initiative. At the core of the initiative are 15 thematic Expert Groups and three Task Forces, each comprised of leading thinkers from developed and developing countries drawn from different fields and backgrounds. Their work has been complemented by an overarching dialogue looking at the global trade and investment architecture, involving consultations with hundreds of thinkers and policy-makers. The entire process has yielded approximately 150 analytical papers and its deliberations have stimulated a fresh look at the long-term challenges and opportunities facing the global trade and investment system, especially in respect of its efficacy, inclusiveness and contribution to sustainable development.

The policy option papers prepared by each E15 thematic group offered a detailed and comprehensive set of suggestions for improved governance of the global trade and investment system in the 21st century. They are accompanied by a Synthesis Report, which summarises and interprets the significance of the proposals for progress on many of the international community’s most important shared imperatives: Boosting Global Growth and Employment; Reducing Commercial Friction and Investment Uncertainty; Accelerating Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries; Increasing Economic Diversification and Competitiveness in Middle-income Countries; Ensuring Food Security; Combating Climate Change and Environmental Degradation; Preserving National Policy Space to Make Societal Choices; and, Strengthening the Legitimacy of the Global Trading System.

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Executive Summary

Synthesis Report

Full Report