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WTO and FIFA use trade and football as catalysts of economic and social development

Wed 28 Sep 2022    
| 2 min read

Geneva: The WTO and FIFA have agreed to work together to examine how international trade and football can serve as catalysts for economic growth and social inclusion. The collaboration, spelt out in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, seeks to foster synergies in relation to the economic dimension of sport and empowerment, especially for least-developed countries (LDCs) and women. Cooperation within the context of the WTO’s cotton programme is also a central element of the agreement.

The WTO and FIFA agreed to collaborate by exchanging views on their respective activities and by preparing and implementing common strategies and projects in areas of shared interest. Regarding the WTO’s cotton programme, the WTO and FIFA will explore opportunities to enhance the participation of the “Cotton Four” (C4) countries (Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad and Mali) and other LDC cotton producers in global football apparel value chains.

The two organizations will also work together in the development of publications, including a joint study on the economic impact of football and its role in unlocking global economic growth potential, and will explore options for the development of capacity-building activities that support the use of football as a tool for women’s empowerment, particularly in LDCs.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “I’m really excited at the prospect of collaborating with FIFA to try to leverage the cotton sector in a positive way for poor developing countries such as the Cotton 4. I’m really excited that collaboration with FIFA could help us pull these countries more into the global cotton value chain. I’m also thrilled at the prospect of working on gender empowerment. We have a big sports economy, and to the extent that we can pull this through trade to support women, this is a positive signal.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “FIFA redistributes its revenue among our 211 member associations to help them develop football in their countries by notably investing in infrastructure, facilities, competitions, refereeing and coaching. Yet, we believe that there is still more that football can do, especially for the youth in the developing world. This important partnership can help us find ways of ensuring that football can further promote sustainable development for everyone to benefit from the global football economy.”

On behalf of the C4 countries, as well as Côte d’Ivoire and all the African countries and LDCs that produce and export cotton, Ambassador Ahmad Makaila of the Republic of Chad welcomed this “excellent initiative” undertaken in the framework of the collaboration between FIFA and the WTO.

“For the C4, the signature of the Agreement between the WTO and FIFA strengthens a common vision, an inclusive and lasting partnership and a choice to favour cooperation and negotiation at the WTO in the search for the most appropriate solutions to the cotton issue,” he stated. “This robust cooperation is more than ever indispensable to ensure that our countries bounce back from the many crises we are currently facing, undertake better reconstruction and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Under the MoU, which will remain in force until 31 December 2027, the WTO and FIFA will exchange information and expertise on the economic dimension of football, through participation in conferences, regular meetings and contributions to studies. Once a year, a joint review will be undertaken to assess the collaboration and identify specific activities or projects to be implemented the following year. These activities and projects will be reflected in a Collaboration Plan.


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