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trade policy INNOVATION

The High Level Group on Trade Policy Innovation was launched in 2017.

Free trade allows people, companies and countries to specialise in what they are good in. According to economic theory of comparative advantages as well as modern theories of international trade, nations that are open to trade freely can achieve greater efficiency. In aggregate, free trade is growth enhancing, improves the competitive landscape and enhances living standards.

However, long ago already Bertil Ohlin, Nobel Prize winner in Economic Science in 1977, has pointed out that global trade could lead to inequality too. His predictions, however, have been largely overlooked in the policy discourse and in the economic literature.

In recent years, it has become apparent that free trade created an equity-efficiency trade-off, i.e. a trade-off between higher economic performance (growth rates) and a more equal income distribution between and within countries. The challenge now is to achieve inclusive and substantial growth. The complexity of the equity-efficiency trade-off is increased by technological change, environmental challenges and rising civic resistance.

This HLG is chaired by Peter Altmaier, former Minister for Economy and Trade, Germany.


  • How to maintain efficiency gains from trade and strengthen trade rules that help to foster fair competition and prevent protectionism.

  • How to address the principal negative externalities of free trade and propose practical ways forward.

  • Designing policy framework(s) that are socially acceptable and enable the gains from trade to be shared more evenly.

  • Using experience from successful countries and from other policy areas to develop the necessary policies and toolkit.



The following people, from the European and national public sector, from corporations and from academia, gave their time and expertise to the work on trade policy management:

Download: HLG Trade Policy Innovation Members List

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