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UNCTAD to host third United Nations Trade Forum

UN Trade Forum 2023

The event will focus on how developing countries can use trade to tackle global challenges including protecting the ocean, reducing digital and gender inequalities, and building more sustainable and resilient economies.

Genève, 2 May 2023 – UNCTAD will host the third UN Trade Forum on 8 and 9 May 2023. It will focus on trade policies that can help countries grow their economies while tackling pressing global challenges and accelerating progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The forum will give particular attention to developing countries, which have been hit hardest by the cascade of global crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the climate emergency.

More than 100 trade experts, policymakers, senior officials from international organizations, business leaders, and civil society representatives will meet in Geneva and online to discuss policies and initiatives that can make trading systems more inclusive, environmentally friendly and resilient.

Topics will include harnessing new opportunities in the ocean economy, promoting trade preferences among developing countries, ensuring that women benefit equally form e-commerce growth, and encouraging businesses and consumers to adopt more sustainable practices.

Unlocking an ocean of opportunities

During the two-day event, UNCTAD will launch its Trade and Environment Review 2023. It highlights the vast opportunities our ocean holds for developing countries to recover from the current crises and build more innovative and resilient economies.

The ocean economy – which includes traditional sectors such as fishing and shipping as well as emerging ones like offshore wind energy and marine biotechnology – is already worth between $3 trillion and $6 trillion and provides at least 150 million direct jobs.

But marine resources and the livelihoods they support are under threat from climate change, pollution and overfishing. The forum will identify initiatives and policies that can help developing countries to both exploit and protect the ocean of opportunities.

Promoting trade preferences among developing countries

The potential of the global system of trade preferences (GSTP) among developing countries will also be in the spotlight. Brazil’s recent ratification has rekindled interest in the preferential trade agreement, which will enter into force when one more member ratifies it.

UNCTAD established the GSTP more than three decades ago to help developing countries increase trade among themselves and diversify and add value to their exports. Its 42 members represent a market of more than $16 trillion and 20% of global merchandise imports.

Making growth more inclusive and sustainable

The forum will feature new analysis on how competition and consumer protection policies can help countries encourage businesses and people to adopt more sustainable practices.

And UNCTAD will present a new study looking at e-commerce from a gender and development perspective. Participants will explore the policies needed to guarantee that the benefits of digital technologies and online trade growth reach women as much as men.

The UN Trade Forum is open to journalists, who can register online.


UNCTAD is the UN’s leading institution dealing with trade and development. It is a permanent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964.

UNCTAD is part of the UN Secretariat and has a membership of 195 countries, one of the largest in the UN system. UNCTAD supports developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively.

We provide economic and trade analysis, facilitate consensus-building and offer technical assistance to help developing countries use trade, investment, finance and technology for inclusive and sustainable development.

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