Members highlighted the transparent and inclusive nature of the Informal Working Group, which was established last September with the intention of allowing more members to join. They agreed to focus their work around four key elements: experience sharing; considering the concept and scope for a “gender lens”; reviewing analytical work undertaken; and contributing to the Aid for Trade work programme as contained in the Interim Report establishing the Informal Working Group.

A number of the participants suggested topics that could be discussed in the Informal Working Group to follow up on the objective to remove barriers to women’s participation in trade in line with the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Empowerment which now counts 127 proponents. Suggested themes include gender-related national policies, Aid for Trade, digital trade, data collection, capacity building, COVID-19, and facilitating access to trade for women entrepreneurs. Members also considered proposals on how to apply the concept of a gender lens to trade policies and to the WTO, with several seeking more presentations from experts in the coming meetings of the Informal Working Group. Members outlined that this issue was a central point in the Informal Working Group’s agenda.

Members also considered a suggestion for the group to organize a session at the Aid for Trade stocktaking event in March 2021 and heard a report from the WTO Trade and Gender Focal Point on the various research work being undertaken. Members also urged the WTO to work with other organisations with expertise on trade and gender and to continue its research partnerships. Members further emphasized the importance of organizing these ideas into a schedule and work plan in preparation for concrete elements to be presented for consideration by the 12th Ministerial Conference scheduled for next year.

The International Trade Centre presented a report titled “Delivering on the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment” which compiles best practices and recommendations on trade and gender ranging from data collection methods to impact assessments of trade agreements, government procurement and financial inclusion tools for women entrepreneurs. These themes were discussed in six workshops organized in 2018 and 2019 under the umbrella of the Buenos Aires Declaration. The report was produced in collaboration with the Trade Impact Group and supported by Australia. Members recommended that the Trade Impact Group and the Informal Working Group work in synergy. The report is available here.

Lastly, members’ views were sought on the leadership structure for the Informal Working Group, which they aim to finalize at the next meeting in early 2021.

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