30 Sep 2020

'The Future of Trade Policy and External Cooperation': Recap of the 2020 World Trade Forum

Discussions during this year's World Trade Forum focussed primarily on trade conflicts between large economies, general tensions in world trade and possible solutions. In addition, possibilities were discussed how future cooperation in international trade can be strengthened. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Trade Forum was held online for the first time this year.

Leading trade experts from practice, science, administration, NGOs, international organizations and the private sector took part in this year's World Trade Forum from 22 to 23 September. The World Trade Forum is jointly organised by the World Trade Institute (WTI) and the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. 

Prof. Joseph Francois, Managing Director of the WTI and Bernard Hoekman, Professor and Programme Director Global Economics at the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies of the EUI, opened the forum. "The topics we covered last year will remain important and topical once COVID-19 is gone. The challenges to the system are still there" said Francois. "One goal of the forum is therefore to face these challenges and to discuss possible solutions".

A total of four plenary sessions, four parallel panels and one partner session were held during the two-day conference. Prof. Manfred Elsig, Deputy Managing Director and Director of Research at the WTI, acted as chair of of the first plenary, "Trade and Non-Trade Policy Objectives: Soft vs. hard Power", while Prof. Peter Van den Bossche, Director of Studies at the WTI, was invited as speaker in the panel on "The Multilateral Trading System: Game over?". Both Dr. Rodrigo Polanco, Academic Coordinator, and Dr. Octavio Fernández-Amador, Postdoc Senior Researcher, chaired two panels as well. 

The partner session on "What Would Happen to a World without the WTO" was sponsored by the 'Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung' (FES) based in Geneva.

As in previous years, various contributions from the forum will appear in a publication in collaboration with Cambridge University Press. For more information about the World Trade Forum in general and this year's edition, please click on the links below.