17 Apr 2023
Global Economic Governance, 16:30, Silva Casa Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, Bern, Switzerland

GEG Seminar with Amb. Didier Chambovey: "Switzerland and the multilateral trading system: past and current challenges"

The 4th Global Economic Governance seminar of 2023 will take place on April 17. NOTE: THIS SEMINAR IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

IMPORTANT NOTE - This lecture is a private event restricted to WTI Students and Staff only.

Switzerland has a domestic market of 8.8 million consumers. Excluding intra-EU trade, it is the 15th exporter and 15th importer of merchandise (2021 ranking). As far as trade in services is concerned, Switzerland ranks 8th. as an exporter and 8th as an importer. Moreover, Switzerland ranks 9th in the world in terms of foreign direct investment. These statistics show how deeply the Swiss economy is integrated into the world market. Like other countries with relatively modest domestic markets, Switzerland generally pursues a liberal economic policy, open to the world.

The multilateral trading system embodied in the GATT and the WTO is tailor-made for such a medium-sized export-oriented economy.

Switzerland would not benefit by the same predictability and stability of market access conditions and trade rules without the multilateral system. Indeed, agreed rules, consensus decision-making and coalition-building reduce disparities in bargaining power.

Current trade tensions are posing an unprecedented challenge to the global rules-based trading and economic system. The lack of common vision and coherent leadership by the biggest powerhouses is another worrisome development. As one of the main beneficiaries of the WTO, Switzerland has crucial stakes in the ongoing turmoil. It will co-operate with nations sharing the same interests and adopt a proactive stance to preserve the integrity of the system. Creativity and pragmatism will be required to muddle through challenging times where sub-optimal solutions will most probably predominate.

This seminar will address the following issues:

  • Switzerland and the GATT : the early days
  • The Uruguay Round : Switzerland’s involvement
  • Multilateral trade cooperation within the context of global value chains: the perspective of a highly globalized economy
  • How to deal with present-day challenges?

Speaker Biography

Ambassador Didier Chambovey (*1961), Dr. oec. head of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the WTO and EFTA in Geneva since 1st September 2016. Previously, Federal Council Ambassador and Delegate for Trade Agreements, and head of the World Trade Division in the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate. From 2006 to 2011, he was Deputy Secretary-General of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). From 1998 to 2006 he served as deputy head of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the WTO and EFTA in Geneva. Before his appointment as section head in the WTO Division in 1993, he worked in the field of economic cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Didier Chambovey joined the Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs (FOFEA) in 1987 as scientific adviser in the GATT Division.

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