Results of WTO-ILO workshop on trade and employment, 31 August–1 September 2009

  • 31 August 2009

The WTO and ILO research teams assembled 30 leading researchers on global trade and employment for a workshop at the WTO in Geneva on 31 August and 1 September.

The project was supported by the ICC Research Foundation. The objectives were to survey current research projects on trade and employment, and to assemble a priority research program on trade and employment. The two-day session consisted of presentations by the researchers and discussion of their projects.

The workshop began with remarks by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy and ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. Both underlined the importance of research on trade and employment, in view of the economic crisis and the high unemployment it has provoked.  Mr Lamy said the impact of the economic crisis on jobs was creating real hardships for people around the world. “This is increasing pressure on governments to act”, he said, but it is not clear which policies might be more effective in the area of trade and employment. Mr. Lamy said the workshop represented a first, significant step in arriving at such policies, through research.

Mr. Samovia stressed that policy-makers in government and institutions need tools which research can provide, as well as a useful framework in which to understand current developments and their impacts.

Victor K Fung, Chairman of both ICC and the Foundation, stressed the importance of research which can identify policy options for decision-makers on trade and employment. “Objective facts, analysis and policy options are especially important at this time because the links between global trade and employment are not well understood. As a result these links are often misrepresented or misconstrued, contributing to arguments in favour of protectionism and against multilateral trade,” said Mr Fung.

WTO Research Director Patrick Low introduced the participants and the lead researchers, Marion Jansen of the ILO and Marc Bachetta of the WTO, joint coordinators of the project.  Each participant presented a summary of their  current research on trade and employment, which was followed, for each presentation, by questions and a general discussion The full program and presentations will soon be available.