Our Initiatives

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Essential
Goods
Initiative

The Global Trade Alert was created in June 2009 to hold governments accountable for their trade-related policy changes that harm other nations and to provide fact-driven assessments independent of official processes associated with the G20 and the WTO. For over a decade, it fills the biggest data gap in the analysis of trade and commercial policies—namely, that relating to so-called non-tariff barriers, subsidies, and other ways in which governments favour local firms in a non-transparent manner. The Global Trade Alert's data and thought leadership is cited frequently by interested stakeholders including analysts, journalists, civil society, business associations, governments, and international organisations.

The Digital Policy Alert (DPA) tracks policy and regulatory developments affecting the digital economy. Under the supervision of experienced policy analysts, an international legal team monitors and classifies relevant developments for publication on the DPA website. As of September 2022, the DPA team has documented over 2,200 such changes announced or implemented by the G20 governments, within the European Union and by Switzerland since January 2020 alone. The findings of this rapidly growing body of work were recently summarised in a report on Emergent Digital Fragmentation. The expertise of the DPA team has been tapped to assess the progress in implementing provisions of a mega-regional trade agreement.

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Trade policy intelligence derived from the Global Trade Alert database is provided to developing country governments as part of the Swiss government-financed Capacities for Trade Policies (C4TP) programme. This initiative includes the creation of tailor-made dashboards to easily access information on trade policy dynamics as well as the organisation in Geneva of workshops of direct interest to the beneficiary country governments. As part of this initiative, the team has developed expertise in assessing the commercial policy stance of G20 economies, doing so in a way that complements the WTO’s Trade Policy Review process. 

The Essential Goods Initiative was established soon after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to track the commercial policy responses of governments to supply chain distribution and resulting shortages of food, fuel, medical goods (including personal protective equipment), and vaccines. Information on policy steps taken is released on a monthly basis, along with succinct summaries and informative data visualisations. This monitoring provided the evidence to support thought leadership pieces on how to tackle shortages of medical kit, vaccine nationalism and hoarding and since the conflict in Ukraine began, food and energy insecurity.