26 Feb 2024
Global Economic Governance, 16:30 - 18:00, Silva Casa Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, Bern, Switzerland
Chambovey, Didier

GEG Seminar with Amb Didier Chambovey "Switzerland’s trade policy : Achievements, Past and Future Challenges"

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Ambassador Didier Chambovey, former Swiss Ambassador to the World Trade Organization and current member of the WTI Advisory Board, will join us for the first GEG Seminar of 2024.


Switzerland has a domestic market of 8.8 million consumers in 2022. Excluding intra-EU trade, it is the 17th exporter and 16th importer of goods (2022 ranking). As far as trade in services is concerned, Switzerland ranks 9th as an exporter and 8th as an importer. Moreover, Switzerland ranks 10th in the world in terms of foreign direct investment (stocks).

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. Its trade policy aims to promote and secure open markets while contributing to sustainable development. It is anchored in the multilateral trading system of the WTO and complemented by a broad range of preferential arrangements with the EU and other partner countries.

The multilateral trading system embodied in the GATT and the WTO seems tailor-made for such a medium-sized export-oriented economy and Switzerland is acting resolutely to preserve its integrity and to promote its development.

The European Union continues to be Switzerland's most important economic partner by far. The close relations between the two sides are reflected in an extensive network of contractual arrangements. This network includes a free trade agreement concluded in 1972 and a range of further agreements, most of which have become effective since 2002 and cover topics such as customs cooperation, agricultural products, technical barriers to trade, land and air transport, government procurement and the free movement of persons. The Federal Council's primary objective is to consolidate and further develop the bilateral path with the EU.

Deepening and extending Switzerland's preferential trade relations beyond the EU also remain major objectives of the Government.

During the seminar, Amb Chambovey will comment on current trade tensions which are posing unprecedented challenges to the global rules-based trading system. The lack of common vision and coherent leadership by the biggest powerhouses is another worrisome development. Systemic conflicts, the resurgence of industrial policies and the quest for strategic autonomy in the name of national security are likely to impact and redeploy the global production processes. These developments could also affect the Swiss economy. In addition, the process underway with the European Union is giving rise to considerable controversy in the country.

About Amb Didier Chambovey

Didier Chambovey was born in 1961 in Sion, Switzerland, where he studied high school. He holds a PhD degree in economics from Lausanne University (HEC). He joined the Swiss Confederation in 1987 at the former Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs (now SECO) and took part in the Uruguay Round negotiations conducted under the aegis of the GATT. From 1990 to 1993 he dealt with Economic Support to Central and Eastern European Countries in the same Office. In 1993, he was appointed Head of section at the WTO Division. From 1998 to 2006, Didier Chambovey served as Deputy Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for Switzerland and, from 2006 to 2011, he was Deputy Secretary-General of EFTA. In September 2011, he was appointed as Delegate for Trade Agreements of the Swiss Federal Government and chief negotiator at the WTO and EFTA (SECO, Berne). From 2016 to August 2023, he was Head of the Swiss Mission to the WTO and EFTA (UNCTAD, UNECE, ITC) in Geneva. He retired from the Swiss Confederation in September 2023 and became an independent expert in international trade.

Didier Chambovey also served on WTO dispute settlement panels and chaired, among others, the WTO General Council and the OECD Trade Committee. As a teaching assistant or lecturer, he taught at the universities of Lausanne and Neuchâtel. He is the author of articles and papers on international trade and demography. In his spare time, he plays classical guitar and enjoys reading books on economics and history. Didier Chambovey speaks French (mother tongue), English and German.

This lecture will take place at the World Trade Institute in Bern and Online (via Zoom). 
To register, please email masters@wti.org

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