No country can achieve a circular economy in isolation. Rather, they are dependent upon international trade to secure affordable and reliable access to a wide range of different materials, goods and services.
This includes the trade in circularity enabling goods, services relevant to intellectual property, secondary raw materials and regeneratively produced food and biomass. The combination of all of these types of trade flows can be considered ‘circular trade’.
Despite circular trade flows being a key enabler of a global circular economy, it faces a range of regulatory and technical challenges. As the circular economy is an emerging area, it has only been embedded to a limited degree within bilateral, regional and plurilateral trade and economic cooperation agreements, which limits the scope and potential for collaboration around transboundary issues.
Additionally, global inequities in power relations, digital trade capabilities, trade infrastructure, access to circular finance and industrial and innovation capabilities mean countries in the Global North are better positioned than those in the Global South to exploit the benefits of circular trade.
An alternative pathway for the circular transition should be pursued in which circular trade is used as an enabler of fair, inclusive and circular societies. This session will explore how WTO Aid For Trade could play a key role in supporting an inclusive circular economy transition.