WTO – World Trade Organization : WTO Public Forum to discuss “Is Multilateralism in Crisis?”

4-traders, September 21, 2012

This year’s Forum will debate:

  • formulating new approaches to multilateral trade opening in areas such as trade facilitation;
  • addressing 21st-century issues and identifying areas in need of new regulations; and
  • looking at the role of non-state actors in strengthening the multilateral trading system.

These themes and others will be analysed at 44 sessions over the three days of the forum.

The results emerging from these discussions will provide useful guidance on how the WTO can better address the complex trade issues of the 21st century.

Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Swiss Confederation, will deliver the Forum’s inaugural speech.

The sessions include the following debates:

Opening Session: “Is Multilateralism in Crisis?” Speakers are WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy; Ms Micheline Calmy-Rey; H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates; Mr Nicholas Staheyeff, Vice Chairman and CFO, eBay International; and Hon. Mr Ricardo Lagos, Senator, The Senate of Chile. The session will be moderated by Mr Andrew Harvey, Former BBC Presenter.

Plurilaterals and Bilaterals: Guardians or Gravediggers of the WTO? Speakers are Ms Arancha González, Chief of Staff, Office of the Director-General, WTO; Mr Winand Quadvlieg, Vice-Chairman, International Relations Committee, BUSINESSEUROPE; Mr Christopher Wenk, Senior Director, International Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; H.E. Ms Anabel Gonzalez, Minister of Trade, Costa Rica; H.E. Mr Wayne McCook, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the WTO; H.E. Mr Fernando de Mateo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mexico to the WTO; and Ms Naoko Munakata, Director General, Multilateral Trade System Department, Trade Policy Bureau, Japan. The session will be moderated by Ms Jennifer Freedman of Bloomberg News.

The Multilateral Trading System in the 21st Century: Interaction Between Trade and Competition Policy. Speakers are Mr Eduardo Pérez-Motta, Chairman, Mexico Federal Competition Commission; Mr Carlos Braga, Director of The Evian Group; Mr Robert Anderson, Counsellor, Intellectual Property Division, WTO; H.E. Tim Yeend, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the WTO; and H.E. Mr Yoichi OTABE, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Japan to the WTO. The session will be moderated by Mr Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International.

Panel of Multi-Stakeholders. Public discussion with members of the panel “Defining the Future of Trade”, established by Director-General Pascal Lamy in April 2012 to examine challenges to global trade opening in the 21st century. Speakers are Mr Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman and Founder, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Overseas Corporation, Jordan; Ms Sharan Burrow, Secretary-General, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Brussels: Mr Frederico Fleury Curado, President and CEO, Embraer S.A, Brazil: Mr Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International; Mr Festus Gontebanye Mogae, Former President of Botswana; Ms Josette Sheeran, Vice Chairman, World Economic Forum, Geneva: Mr George Yeo, Former Foreign Minister of Singapore; Vice Chairman, Kerry Group Limited; and Mr Fujimori Yoshiaki, President and CEO, JS Group Corporation, Tokyo. The session will be moderated by Mr Lamy.

Global Value Chains: Implications for Trade Policy. Speakers are Mr Bernard Hoekman, Director, Trade Department, World Bank; Mr Ken Ash, Director, Trade and Agriculture Directorate, OECD; H.E. Ms Anabel Gonzalez, Minister of Trade, Costa Rica; Mr Peter Draper, Senior Research Fellow, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA);Mr Karan Bhatia, Vice President and Senior Counsel, International Law & Policy General Electric Company. Commentator: Mr Patrick Low, Director, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO. The session will be moderated by Ms Arancha González, Chief of Staff, Office of the Director-General, WTO.

Trade and Jobs. Speakers are Mr Yogendra K. Modi, Member of the Board, International Organisation of Employers (IOE); Chairman and CEO, Great Eastern Energy Corporation; Professor Alberto Trejos, Professor of Economics, INCAE Business School; former Trade Minister, Costa Rica; Mr John Evans, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Hon. Mr Ricardo Lagos, Senator, The Senate of Chile; and Mr Stephen Pursey, Director, Policy Integration Department and Senior Advisor to the Director-General, ILO. The session will be moderated by Mr Rufus Yerxa, Deputy Director General, WTO.

A new feature of this year’s Forum is the Ideas Workshop which will give participants the opportunity to share ideas on key trade topics in a highly interactive environment. The workshops bring together experts from diverse backgrounds to tackle topical trade challenges. Unlike the panel sessions, the workshops will deal with a particular problem and focus on coming up with concrete solutions.

This year’s Ideas Workshops will cover:

  • How to ensure green economy policies are implemented in a co-ordinated manner rather than at cross-purposes?
  • The future of the WTO dispute settlement system.
  • Rethinking trade-related aspects of intellectual property in today’s global economy.

WTO’s first ever Youth Ambassadors, selected by separate video and essay contests, will discuss the topic “How can trade promote development?” with other students on 25 September.

Those who cannot attend the Public Forum can follow the discussions by listening to podcasts of every session and by participating through social media.

The Public Forum is also on Social Media. You are invited to tune in and join the conversation with a view to widening the discussion beyond those physically present in Geneva. The “Social Media Corner” will collect views from participants and the public on video each day from 1pm to 2pm and 4pm to 5pm.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldtradeorganization

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WTO


The WTO Public Forum is an annual event that provides a platform for public debate and discussion across a wide range of WTO issues and activities. Since 2001, more than 9,000 representatives from civil society, academia, business, the media, governments, parliamentarians and inter-governmental organizations have attended the Public Forum


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