The E15 engages key stakeholders – trade and investment policy makers, business and thought leaders – in policy dialogues in Geneva and around the world to explore and help validate ideas, align interests and strengthen the impetus for change.

Policy Dialogues

Rethinking International Subsidies Disciplines Retreat

14 - 15 April 2016 , Cambridge, United Kingdom

On 14-15 April, ICTSD organised a retreat in Cambridge, England to address the opportunities and challenges around international subsidies disciplines.

Subsidies are a critical instrument that governments use to influence consumption or production patterns, income distribution or the use of resources in the pursuit of different policy goals. Critics often point to the inefficiencies and economic distortions they create, their perverse distributive consequences, and the negative impact they can have on the environment. On the other hand, subsidies may represent sensible policy responses to a range of market failures and play a useful role in advancing certain public policy objectives (e.g. reducing income inequality or delivering essential public goods). In an increasingly integrated and interdependent world, addressing the negative externalities generated by subsidies, while maintaining their possibly positive function, inevitably calls for some form of international cooperation.

In recent years, critical evolutions in the global economy such as the rise of emerging economies, the revival of industrial policies, the fragmentation of international value chains or the imperative to address new and old challenges (e.g. climate change, declining fish stocks, food security) have prompted a growing number of stakeholders to question the adequacy of current disciplines. At the heart of the matter is the concern that such disciplines – essentially drafted in the late 80’s and early 90’s – are increasingly at odds with today’s realities and need to be re-assessed in the light of new global challenges and future needs.

This retreat represents the first in a series of meetings in which ICTSD will convene selected experts to engage in an informal dialogue addressing some of these questions, building on the policy options produced by the E15 Task Force on Rethinking International Subsidies Disciplines. A first objective will consist of exploring sound analytical approaches to determine the impact of different subsidy schemes beyond the jurisdiction of the country applying them. Second, participants will discuss possible avenues for reform including through issue-specific approaches or in the context of plurilateral or regional initiatives including the so-called mega-regional agreements. Discussions will be organised around a structured agenda covering a range of topics including clean energy, innovation, development or natural resources, and will be supported by analytical inputs from the E15 process.

Participants from the E15: