12 Mar 2013

A Policy Debate: The Multilateral Trading System and the WTO

On 28 February and 1 March 2013, Professor Manfred Elsig, Dr. Jappe Eckhardt and Maura Iliuteanu of the World Trade Institute (WTI) participated in a meeting involving high-level experts on the “Functioning of the WTO”.

Co-organised by the WTI and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), a group of 25 experts from across the globe met in Geneva to discuss and identify policy options to strengthen the functioning of the multilateral trading system – the WTO in particular. Manfred Elsig, Jappe Eckhardt and Maura Iliuteanu helped shed light on this subject through a paper they presented entitled, “The Functioning of the WTO: Mapping the Challenges and Asking the Hard Questions”. Trade negotiators, (former) ambassadors, representatives of the business community and academic colleagues in the audience debated all major aspects of the WTO’s function, including management and administration through the conduct of trade negotiations and dispute settlement, as well as cooperation with other institutions and with the private sector.

The meeting in Geneva is part of the E15: a broader initiative launched by ICTSD and partners. Consisting of a series of expert dialogues, the E15 deals with a set of critical challenges facing the multilateral trading system. Participating expert groups are expected to develop policy options on how the WTO might face current and future challenges in the particular area they are responsible for evaluating.  All proposed policy options by the groups will be merged into a final report, which will be presented at the Trade and Development Symposium (TDS), organized by ICTSD during the WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2013 in Indonesia (Bali).