Date and Time: Wednesday 4th December 2013 ~~~ 10:00 – 11:30
Location: Bougainville room
Theme: Strengthening the Multilateral Trading System (E15initiative Stream)


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In association with:

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Session Objectives

The session will examine issues at the nexus between trade and innovation on the basis of the work carried out by the E15 expert group. While innovation has become a top priority for governments and businesses, it has received relatively little attention in the context of the multilateral trading system. The treatment of innovation and trade policies in isolation raises important, and potentially worrying, questions; is innovation as an overarching policy objective adequately addressed by WTO agreements? What additional actions should future WTO provisions embody to support global and national innovation? Should there be new multilateral rules for digital trade? Building on the first phase of the E15 expert group discussions, panellists will engage with these questions, searching for appropriate answers and possible steps forward.


Innovation has become a top priority for most governments and businesses and is now widely recognized as a key engine of economic growth and prosperity. Yet the dynamics of innovation have undergone significant changes over the past decade as the world economy became more globalized. Global value chains have become a key conduit for technology diffusion and innovation. Innovation is increasingly organized in global networks across national borders. Emerging economies are expanding their technological and innovative capacities in a wide range of sectors.

In this changing landscape, innovation and trade policies are now more closely intertwined and their interface is in need of a fresh look – particularly as the two issues are often considered and discussed quite separately. In this context, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development’s e15initiative along with The Evian [email protected] have convened a multi-stakeholder Expert Group which brings together experts from the relevant policy and research communities working on these issues. The group aims to examine more closely this interface, and in particular the extent to which the WTO regime supports or hinders innovation in the current global economy.

Against this background, the Bali Hearing will address the following questions:
• Is innovation as an overarching policy objective of every national government and of most private or public sector firms addressed adequately by current WTO agreements?
• Do WTO rules facilitate or constrain progression up the value chain?
• Is the WTO regime well adapted to the digital environment? Does the WTO regime provide adequate policy space for countries, developed, developing, and least developed, to pursue innovation?
• What additional actions should future WTO provisions embody to support global and national innovation efforts?