Support Evidence-based Policymaking, WTO Urges Researchers

Oluchi Chibuzor

The Deputy Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Anabel González, has urged researchers, universities and think-tanks to provide intellectual support for the rules-based trading system in the global economy.

She said this they could achieve by acting more like “plumbers” to help policymakers find pragmatic solutions to concrete trade policy problems.
She stated this at the 2023 Heckscher-Ohlin Conference held by the Swedish National Board of Trade and the Stockholm School of Economics Center for Asian Studies.

At the event, she told participants that international trade remains a central pillar of global prosperity and a contributor to addressing global challenges,
She noted that in an age awash with information, a rigorous approach to developing and testing ideas was more important than ever. According to her, it was only by understanding the ideas, theories and even myths shaping the world that “we can harness the right ones and reject the wrong ones.”

“Without the facts, without rigorous analysis, above all without discussing, debating and testing ideas, the world is flying blind,” she added.
At the conference, González stressed that rigorous thinking was especially important in times of crises since crises were often catalysts for profound change.
“The dramatic changes in the trade policy landscape witnessed over the past few years are no exception. Data, research and analysis are needed to inform the way forward and avoid decisions that, though well-intentioned, leave the world worse off.

“The research community can and must do more to shape the narrative of trade and economic integration, especially with respect to the potential for trade to address the big challenges of the 21st century, from tackling climate change to strengthening preparedness for future pandemics and from bolstering socio-economic inclusion to promoting peace and security.

“And economists need to think and act more like “plumbers”, to borrow from the Nobel laureate Esther Duflo. Those in the policymaking community need to get their hands dirty with the details and messiness of policymaking so that they can play a greater role in influencing policy outcomes,” she said.
While in Stockholm, DDG González also participated in a roundtable discussion organized by the International Chamber of Commerce Sweden and the Trade Experettes on the future of the WTO.

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