Key Takeaways

  ADB and the World Trade Organization entered into a partnership that is poised to make a significant impact on ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs). The key ways in which DMCs stand to benefit are through:

  1. Enhanced trade opportunities: By leveraging the multilateral trading system overseen by the WTO, DMCs can gain better access to global trade and markets. Leveraging WTO membership can create new avenues for trade and investment, ultimately boosting economic growth and prosperity.
  2. Climate change mitigation: ADB and WTO will work together to address climate change challenges by using trade tools. Sustainable trade practices and policies will be promoted, helping DMCs navigate environmental concerns while participating in international trade.
  3. Capacity building: Through joint initiatives, DMCs will receive capacity development support. This includes knowledge sharing, best practices, and experiences from global experts, empowering DMCs to enhance their competitiveness in regional and global value chains.

Overall, this collaboration aims to improve the quality of life for people in DMCs by fostering economic integration, sustainable development, and greater participation in global trade and markets.

  • Photo: Asian Development Bank

    Closer regional trade and financial integration in Asia and the Pacific has huge benefits that drive economic growth and development.

  • Photo: Asian Development Bank

    Asia and the Pacific is stronger and more resilient when it works collectively to address challenges such as climate change, pandemics, and financial shocks.

ADB and WTO Collaboration Solidify Partnership with Memorandum of Understanding

ADB and the World Trade Organization (WTO) formalized their collaboration through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The signing took place on 1 May 2024, during the ADB Annual Meeting in Tbilisi between VP Fatima Yasmin and WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam to solidify the two organizations’ strategic partnership.

The Essence of the MOU

The MOU serves as the foundation for cooperation between ADB and WTO in several critical areas:

  1. Regional cooperation: ADB and WTO will work together to enhance regional cooperation, focusing on trade and economic integration.
  2. Trade and environment: The partnership aims to address environmental challenges through information exchange, pilot initiatives, and joint dialogues with developing member countries (DMCs).
  3. Capacity development: By leveraging each other’s expertise, ADB and WTO will enhance DMCs’ capacity to participate in global trade and markets effectively.

Advancing ADB's Strategy 2030

VP Yasmin emphasized that this collaboration aligns with ADB’s Strategy 2030 and the Regional Cooperation and Integration (RCI) Operational Plan. By creating and expanding trade and investment opportunities, ADB aims to improve the quality of life for people in DMCs. Access to global trade and markets will play a pivotal role in achieving this goal.

Photo: Asian Development Bank
ADB Vice President for Sectors and Themes Fatima Yasmin and WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam sign a memorandum of understanding on 1 May 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Tapping into WTO's Expertise

The WTO operates as a global system of trade rules, providing a platform for negotiating trade agreements and resolving trade-related issues.   ADB can tap into WTO’s expertise on trade policies to benefit DMCs in several ways:

  1. Climate Change Challenges: ADB will work with WTO to address climate change challenges through sustainable trade practices.
  2. Global Best Practices: By collaborating with WTO, ADB gains access to global best practices and experiences from experts specializing in trade and sustainable development.
  3. Exchange of Experiences: ADB and WTO will foster knowledge sharing, promoting dialogue and learning across regions.

Renewed Commitment

This is not the first time ADB and WTO have joined forces. An earlier MOU, signed in May 2002, laid the groundwork for their cooperation. In recent years, they have collaborated on various initiatives, including the WTO’s Aid for Trade (AfT) Initiative in Asia and the Pacific and ADB’s Trade Forum on Leveraging Trade to Address Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific held at the ADB Headquarters in March 2024. Additionally, joint participation in policy dialogues and consultation events has strengthened their relationship.

As the new MOU takes effect from 1 May 2024, lasting until 30 April 2029,   ADB and WTO are in a position to make significant strides in advancing global trade, sustainable development, and inclusive growth.