S7: WTO – Back to Basics?
Organizer: The Friends of Multilateralism Group (FMG)
Public Tuesday September, 29 09:00 — 10:30 (90m)
Rebooting the WTO
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Are there practical ways of reviving the reputation of the World Trade Organization?

In an increasingly hostile environment for trade, the WTO is in trouble, with its dispute settlement, monitoring and negotiations functions stuttering. Once regarded as one of the most effective international organizations, it seems to have lost its way amid a cacophony of views as to its purpose in a divided world.

Some think it needs root and branch reform, but this option is not straightforward as governments have differing views on the types of reforms needed.

This session will ask whether the WTO should focus to a greater extent on core competences, such as negotiating a series of incremental mini-deals in the short to medium term wherever agreement is achievable, in a “back to basics” approach.

Key questions:

  1. Is the WTO capable of resolving the major geo-economic challenges currently confronting the trading system?
  2. Would the trading system be better served by the WTO flying at lower altitude and building consensus “bottom-up” wherever it can?
  3. How can the WTO change its focus to what is achievable as opposed to what might be regarded as optimal; and what, more precisely, might be achievable?
  4. What would need to change in the WTO to enable it to produce practical results more consistently?

In the second portion of the session, the floor will open for a moderated audience discussion guided by the question:

Has the WTO suffered from over-inflated expectations? Would it be better to adopt a more modest agenda based on practical progress and, if so, what might be the elements of such an agenda?


Continue the conversation in the dedicated chat on the Beyond Trade Network.

This session will be simultaneously translated into French, Spanish and English (when needed) via the Interactio application, by entering the code GTW2020 (please use headphones). Open the application in your Web browser or download it for iOS Mobile App or for Android App.

Organizer: The Friends of Multilateralism Group (FMG)
Public Tuesday September, 29 09:00 — 10:30 (90m)
Rebooting the WTO