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Trade, labour and environment

Participation of Belgium in the areas of trade, economy, labour and environment.
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In the areas of trade, economic, labour and environment, the Permanent Representation ensures full participation of Belgium in, inter alia, the following international organizations in Geneva:

  • the World Trade Organization (WTO);
  • the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE);
  • the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO);
  • the International organizations and agencies in Geneva with respect to environment, among which the International Environment House, and;
  • the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD);
  • the International Labour Organization (ILO);
  • the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Belgium is one of the most open economies in the world and is dependent on trade for its well-being. Belgium’s commitment to the multilateral trading system is reflected in the importance it attaches to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Created in 1995 as a mark-up from the GATT dating from 1948, the WTO aims at regulating and promoting trade through the negotiation of global trade rules, the monitoring of its members’ trade policies and the ordinate settlement of trade disputes.

Given the competences of the European Commission on trade policy, the delegation of the European Union is leading the actual negotiations. Member states of the EU however follow this process closely. Belgium pays attention in particular to the negotiation function of the WTO and to its efforts to further liberalize trade.  In Belgium’s view, an update of WTO rules is necessary to better reflect the new global trade trends such as global supply chains and electronic commerce and to take better into account the emergence of new trade actors that have become industrial powerhouses. 

Established in 1964, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) promotes the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. The organization works to fulfil this mandate by carrying out three key functions: acting as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations aimed at consensus building; undertaking research, policy analysis and data collection for the debates of government representatives and experts; providing technical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of developing countries. 

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was set up in 1947 by ECOSOC. UNECE's major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. To do so, it brings together 56 countries located in the European Union, non-EU Western and Eastern Europe, South-East Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and North America. All these countries dialogue and cooperate under the aegis of UNECE on economic and sectoral issues.  Its activities in the area of land transportation, be it over road or rail, dominate regulatory developments and standardization processes extending far beyond the European continent.  Over 70 international professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations take part in UNECE activities. 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is unique in that it harbours representatives of social partners (employers federations and trade unions) alongside governmental delegations.  Belgium has been an ILO member State since its creation in 1919 and is close to the top of the list in number of ILO Conventions ratified. The ILO is one of Belgium’s select multilateral partner organizations, thus acknowledging that ILO’s work fits perfectly in the country’s approach to rights-based development and sustainable, inclusive economic growth. Within the ILO, Belgium focuses in particular on decent work, social protection, social dialogue, fragile states, the 2030 development agenda and the standard monitoring mechanism. Belgium is a key partner in promoting the Decent Work Agenda and a co-founder of the Group of Friends of Decent Work for Sustainable Development.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technology (ICTs). The organization allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develops technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strives to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide.