Story at a glance

  • The U.S. plans to sign a WTO joint declaration advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment within trade, USTR said this week.
  • The declaration will be readied for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, which has been postponed indefinitely because of renewed travel restrictions.
  • A joint declaration on gender equality and empowerment in trade was first issued by WTO members in 2017.

The U.S. will join other World Trade Organization member countries in signing a joint declaration on advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment within trade, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said this week.

The announcement “reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to building back better by advancing equity across the board and consistent with its national gender strategy to advance the full participation of all people – including women and girls – in the United States and around the world,” USTR said in a statement.

According to the statement, USTR will also continue to participate in an informal WTO working group on trade and gender issues to “deepen the understanding of structural and cultural barriers to women’s participation in trade in order to craft trade policy that promotes women’s economic empowerment.”

The declaration will be presented at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, originally intended to begin Nov. 30 in Geneva, but postponed over concerns about the omicron variant of COVID-19 and renewed travel restrictions that would have made it difficult for some ministers to reach the conference.


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This is the second time the conference, initially planned for June 2020 in Kazakhstan, has been canceled. No date has currently been set for its rescheduling.

The WTO first issued a joint declaration on gender equality and empowerment within trade in 2017 on the margins of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires that year.

That declaration, signed by more than 100 countries, acknowledges the critical role gender plays in inclusive growth, noting that improving women’s access to opportunities in international trade contributes largely to sustainable economic development.

An updated draft published this year contains recommendations for WTO members to continue their work on increasing women’s participation in trade, taking into account the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women across the globe.


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Published on Dec 04, 2021