The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of international trade to respond to shocks that the world has not been prepared to face. The crisis has caused visible economic damage and reversed many hard-won gains in reducing poverty, with an additional 97 million people pushed into poverty in 2020 alone, according to a study by the World Bank. Had trade not been one of the channels available to mitigate the crisis, this number could have been even worse.
Trade has historically been a remarkable economic development tool. However, its strength is being tested by today’s geopolitical events. The WTO recently forecasted global trade growth could be reduced by half from 4.7% to up to 2.4% this year and identified some of the main transmission channels as being food and energy supply chains. OIC member countries will be some of the most affected.
The Panel Discussion will attempt to seek rigorous contributions to opportunities offered in these areas. Among countries in the various sub-regions, initiatives to further promote trade and investment across borders—the African Continental Free Trade Area, the CIS Free Trade Area, and the Pan-Arab Free Trade Area—can help create an environment conducive to sustainable growth. From a wider perspective, these arrangements enable integration in global value chains (GVCs). Besides, trade’s crosscutting effects in the economy with significant linkages to other sectors can enable social inclusion through supporting SMEs—the backbone of many economies—to take advantage of the opportunities presented by global value chains. Finally, the role of trade through the lenses of transitioning to greener
economies and mitigating the effects of climate change can create new sources of growth.