At a time of great uncertainty and debate about the future direction of the global trade and investment architecture, the E15Initiative will in 2015 and 2016 host a series of Conversations on the Global Trade and Investment Architecture (GTIA).
A reality check, or indeed, a re-examination of the GTIA is especially called for in light of:
- New trends in global trade and investment flows and policies, including the rise of global value chains; growing linkages between trade, investment, and finance; and the growing relevance of non-tariff, behind-the-border barriers to trade.
- The slow pace of multilateral trade negotiations and the rise of mega-regional, regional, plurilateral, and bilateral approaches.
- Several “game changers” in the global landscape such as technological developments and the growth of the digital economy as well as shifts in economic and political power with the rise of emerging economies.
- Increasing calls to address new environmental and social challenges, alongside longstanding ones, where trade and international trade rules, policies, and institutions are relevant.
The conversations will engage policymakers, experts, and stakeholders to identify forward-looking visions, key areas of shared interest, and strategic options in the following areas:
- Purpose: What does the international community need from the GTIA to advance its shared public policy goals in favour of sustainable development and to resolve tensions where views on these diverge? What are the differential rationales that drive the quest for cooperation in international trade?
- Scope: Which issues warrant greater attention from the GTIA? Where do governments need new frameworks for cooperation? How would a change in coverage alter the way countries should approach cooperation in international trade? How do the issues for attention alter what the “architecture” of global trade and investment should look like?
- Functions: What governance functions deserve greater attention? How might these needs evolve in the medium-term? How can these functions be designed in ways that respond to concerns about effectiveness, inclusiveness, legitimacy, and transparency?
- Subsidiarity and the rationales for cooperation: Where are multilateral approaches to decision-making and action required, and how can multilateralism be strengthened to this end? Where and for what purposes should a spectrum of alternative approaches be considered? How could these in turn support the evolution of the multilateral approach over time? Where are the needs and opportunities for non-governmental approaches, and how should governments respond to these? How can and should the growing complexity of international governance efforts be addressed, in other words, the so-called “regime complexity”?
- Coherence with wider global governance processes: How can the GTIA be better informed by and contribute to wider global economic governance processes? What approaches would foster greater coherence between trade and investment negotiations on the one hand, and international public policy agendas and commitments to address sustainable development challenges, on the other?
Across the GTIA, the role of national governments is critical. The Conversations will thus also explore what changes are needed in national trade policymaking processes to reflect the evolving nature, future direction, and needs of a GTIA that serves sustainable development.
To place discussions on the future of the GTIA in a wider context, the Conversations will move beyond the “inside view” of the trade policy community to also consider the priorities of those policymakers and stakeholders not directly engaged in the GTIA but whose expectations and perspectives impact the politics of trade and investment.