The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have reminded the importance of open and predictable international trade, particularly for fragile and conflict affected (FCA) states. Currently, the WTO has 164 members, with Liberia and Afghanistan as its latest members after having joined the Organization on 14 and 29 July 2016, respectively. Their WTO memberships, which aimed at using trade integration as a lever to build and sustain peace, have inspired not only new applicants such as Somalia, Timor-Leste and South Sudan, but also other acceding governments, half of which have been affected by conflicts, such as Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. To assist FCA states, the WTO launched the Trade for Peace Programme in 2017 and works closely with partners from the trade, peace and humanitarian communities.
In celebration of the 5-year anniversary of the WTO membership of Liberia and Afghanistan, the panel will discuss how the integration into the multilateral trading system has provided an opportunity to consolidate their peace building efforts after years of conflicts through policy and institutional reforms that promote transparency, predictability, the rule of law and good governance. The session will also explore how trade could support economic and social recovery, build forward better and leave no one behind in the context of the 2030 Development agenda.