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Overview: The Inclusive Trade Action Group

Further to their Joint Declaration on Fostering Progressive and Inclusive Trade signed on the margins of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) signing in March 2018, Canada, Chile and New Zealand are advancing inclusive trade initiatives through the Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG), established on the margins of the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit.

ITAG Partners confirmed a shared commitment to work together to help make international trade policies more inclusive in order to ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are more broadly shared. This can have a positive impact on economic growth and help to reduce inequality and poverty. It can also help to maintain support for trade which is very important for countries that are dependent on trade for their prosperity.

ITAG work plan

ITAG has developed an evergreen work plan that was endorsed by trade ministers in May 2019 at the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade. ITAG initiatives to date have included activities at World Trade Organization (WTO) and APEC, such as:

To learn more about past activities and upcoming ITAG priorities, view ITAG’s work programme.

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement

ITAG developed a stand-alone Global Trade and Gender Arrangement. The Arrangement recognizes the importance of mutually supportive trade and gender policies, and seeks to increase women’s participation in trade as part of broader efforts to improve gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. This complements and builds on work that the Government of Canada has undertaken to increase the meaningful participation of women in international trade, including through the development of Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy; and initiatives such as the Business Women in International Trade initiative, and Export Development Canada’s Women in Trade Investment Program.

The Participants in the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement acknowledge the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into the promotion of inclusive economic growth.  They also acknowledge that it is inappropriate to weaken or reduce the protection afforded in their respective gender equality laws and regulations to gain trade or investment. The Arrangement commits the Participants to enforce their laws and regulations promoting gender equality and improving women’s access to economic opportunities. The Arrangement also commits the Participants to jointly implement cooperation activities such as workshops, webinars, and video conferences to exchange information and best practices on a range of issues including: identifying and removing barriers to women’s participation in trade; increasing women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); closing the gender wage gap; conducting impact assessments of trade agreements; and, collecting and analyzing gender disaggregated data.

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement is open to other countries to join as Participants.

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement – General information

ITAG – General information

The Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG) is comprised of Canada, Chile and New Zealand. ITAG was established on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit in November 2018. The Group is working together to help make international trade policies more inclusive, and ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are more broadly shared. A key initiative of the Group’s work has been to establish a Trade and Gender Arrangement. ITAG’s commitment to inclusive trade is more important than ever given the common objective to achieve a sustainable and inclusive post-COVID-19 economic and trade recovery.

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement – General information

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement is a non-binding agreement that Canada, Chile and New Zealand signed on August 4th, 2020, which commits each Participant to advance an inclusive approach to trade and address the barriers that women face when participating in trade. The Arrangement is not limited to women and trade; its provisions are inclusive and aim to remove barriers faced by all genders. At the heart of the Arrangement are cooperation activities which will be designed to share knowledge, best practices and increase women’s participation in the economy and trade.

Cooperation activities may occur through workshops, webinars, conferences, trade missions, and joint research projects among the Participants. Cooperation activities can include:

  • sharing of experiences and best practices in designing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and strengthening policies and programs to enhance women’s participation in domestic, regional and global economies;
  • initiatives to promote gender equality within enterprises;
  • promoting the participation of women-owned enterprises in local, regional, and global value chains,
  • supporting economic opportunities for rural and Indigenous women in trade and investment; and,
  • exchanging information on methods and procedures for the collection of gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data, and the analysis of gender-focused statistics related to trade (recognizing that data-sets underpinning trade and gender analysis are still underdeveloped).

Cooperation activities will be carried out through the appropriate coordination of agencies, companies, labour unions, civil society, academic institutions, and non-governmental organisations, among others.

Importance of the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment at home and abroad. We know that trade has the potential to have a positive impact in economic development and that exporting firms, including women-owned companies that export, can achieve greater levels of profitability, competitiveness, productivity, innovation, resilience, pay higher wages and hire more diverse employees. But we also know that women owned businesses and workers are less likely to be involved in traded sectors and generally face lower wages. The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement attempts to address some of those challenges through a range of provisions that seek to increase women’s participation in and benefits from trade as part of broader efforts to improve gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

In today’s competitive global economy, leveraging the best and brightest entrepreneurs—both women and men—is not only the right thing to do but is a win-win for us all. The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada's future competitiveness and prosperity. Our economy—and our country—simply cannot reach its full potential if we are leaving people behind.

This Arrangement complements work that Canada undertakes domestically to support gender equality, including leading the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy; legislating pay equity; providing more affordable child care; and addressing gender-based violence.

Difference between a stand-alone Global Trade and Gender Arrangement in Trade and a Trade and Gender chapter in a trade agreement

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement is similar to a Trade and Gender Chapter as it is designed to assist in removing barriers that women face when participating in trade and proposes various cooperation activities that could take place. Given that the Arrangement is “standalone” however, it is not linked to a specific trade agreement and therefore is open to any interested economies to sign. The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement represents a strong demonstration of political commitment and good will by those Participants, but it is not enforceable or subject to binding dispute resolution.

Objective of the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement

We expect that over time, the Arrangement will be a force for positive change in our economies and societies by increasing the development of more robust opportunities for women in international trade; and contributing to the promotion of gender considerations on the international stage. Participants will share information and learn from each other, build knowledge and understanding of the trade and gender nexus and ways to remove domestic and international barriers to women’s participation. The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement reaffirms the Participants’ commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, chiefly Goal 5, which commits to ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere and leaving no one behind.

Benefits of the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement for women-owned businesses and women workers

The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement recommits to the goal of gender equality in the workplace. It commits Participants to cooperate and share best practices to eliminate discrimination in employment and occupation, including on the basis of sex, pregnancy, possibility of pregnancy, maternity, gender and gender identity, and sexual orientation. For women owned businesses, the Arrangement includes cooperation activities to promote the internationalization of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) led by women and the fuller integration of women into the formal economy. The Participants commit to promoting business development services for women and programmes to improve women's digital skills and access to online business tools.

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