Seminars, Webinars, & High-level Events

Joint CEF - WTO Webinar on Government Policies to Promote Innovation in the Digital Age

September 1st, 2021


The IMF-Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (IMF-CEF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) held a joint webinar titled "Government Policies to Promote Innovation in the Digital Age” on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.

Mr. Paulo Drummond, Director of the CEF, delivered opening remarks at the beginning of the event, which was moderated by Mr. Mohamed Trabelsi, Senior Economist at the CEF. The panelists included Mr. Marc Auboin, Counsellor at the WTO, and Ms. Ankai Xu, Research Economist at the WTO.

Mr. Auboin kicked off the discussion by summarizing the key findings of the WTO’s 2020 World Trade Report. Ms. Xu then presented the special features of the digital economy—data-driven, integrates goods and services, leads to the scalability of firms, and changes at a fast pace. She underscored that the digital economy has spread to all sectors—most notably, information services, professional and management services, finance and insurance, and manufacturing. Ms. Xu also examined the rationales for government innovation policy and the role of trade. She highlighted various innovation policy tools including open trade policies, funding innovation, intellectual property regulation, human capital enhancements through education and immigration, policies to increase competition, and successful complementary policies in closely related sectors like telecommunication infrastructure. 

Mr. Auboin highlighted the policy implications of such changes on the country level. He mentioned that world exports of Information Technology Agreement (ITA) products have almost quadrupled over the past 20 years, tech clusters have become a key tool used in innovation policy, and least developed countries are behind in digital infrastructure. Mr. Auboin then finished the presentation by discussing the role of the WTO, noting that cooperation in multilateral trading systems contributed to the expansion of digital sectors. Finally, Mr. Auboin emphasized that cooperation at the bilateral, multilateral, and regional level can spur innovation, strengthen global value chains, and limit negative spillovers.

The floor then opened for a discussion with a diverse audience from the Arab world, comprising of public sector officials, academics, and representatives of the business community, civil society, and other international organizations.


To view the full presentation, please follow the link below: 

CEF-WTO Webinar Presentation.