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What is the Inclusive Trade Action Group?
The Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG) is comprised of New Zealand, Canada and Chile. It was established by the three countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in November 2018.
ITAG has its origins in the Joint Declaration on Fostering Progressive and Inclusive Trade [PDF, 112 KB]. This was issued by New Zealand, Canada and Chile alongside the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in March 2018.
ITAG members are working together to help make trade policies more inclusive, and ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are more broadly shared. It could be seen in some ways as a natural extension of New Zealand’s Trade for All Agenda.
Since November 2018 the three countries have together held a number of workshops and meetings to further develop understanding of indigenous trade, women’s economic empowerment, agriculture and the sustainable development goals, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) development.
The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement
Since May 2019 New Zealand, Canada and Chile have worked towards concluding a Trade and Gender Arrangement aimed at increasing women’s participation in trade as part of broader efforts to improve gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
On 5 August (NZT) the three countries launched the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement in a virtual signing ceremony. It is the first ITAG Arrangement concluded, and New Zealand’s first trade arrangement specifically on gender.
- the text of the finalised Arrangement [PDF, 307 KB]
- a press release(external link) from the Minister for Trade and Export Growth. This includes a Joint Communique by New Zealand, Canada and Chile to mark the signing of the Arrangement.
- a renewed ITAG Work Programme [PDF, 115 KB].
What is the Arrangement and what does it do?
The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement commits each Participant to advance a more inclusive approach to trade, and address barriers that women face when participating in trade. 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.
We know that trade has 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, and 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 trade sectors and generally face lower wages.
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.
The Participants also reaffirm their commitment 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.
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 SMEs led by women and the fuller integration of women into the formal economy. It also contains specific cooperative activities aimed at enhancing economic opportunities for rural women and Māori.
Is the Arrangement a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?
In short, no. The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement is similar to a Trade and Gender Chapter in an FTA 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.
The Arrangement represents a strong demonstration of commitment by the Participants, but it is not enforceable or subject to binding dispute resolution. It does contain a review mechanism and the Participants will decide within three years whether to elevate the Arrangement to “treaty status” (which is New Zealand’s preference).
Who can join the Arrangement? Do economies need to be part of ITAG to join?
Given that the Arrangement is “standalone”, it is not linked to any specific trade agreement. It is open to any interested economies to join. The ITAG have extended an invitation for other economies to consider doing so.
An economy does not need to be part of ITAG to join the Arrangement (but ITAG partners welcome participation in both.)
The Participants will now commence implementing the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement, and discuss possible cooperative activities.
We welcome your feedback on the Arrangement, or any ideas for increasing women’s participation in trade.
Email your feedback to: TRADEFORALL@mfat.govt.nz
Other news and resources
Press release, 24 May 2019 – Minister for Trade and Export Growth: NZ’s interests advanced at international trade forums(external link)
Press release, 16 November 2018 - Minister for Trade and Export Growth: Inclusive Trade Action Group meets in Port Moresby(external link). This press release includes reference to a meeting of the Inclusive Trade Action Group, following which a Joint Communique [DOCX, 37 KB] was issued.