Date and Time: Wednesday 4th December 2013 ~~~ 10:00 – 11:30
Location: Auditorium
Theme: International Trade Governance and Sustainable Development


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Session Objectives

• Discuss the implications of the shift by major OECD countries to negotiate trade and investment agreements with each other.
• Identify specific initiatives that could be pursued by the many countries that are excluded from ongoing plurilateral negotiations (TPP; TTIP; TISA) and that have the most to lose from the WTO becoming a backwater institution.
• What would mobilize the business community globally to re-invest energy in the WTO?


The business community has largely given up on the WTO negotiating process to generate rule making and significant liberalization of market access restrictions. As a result the large OECD countries have begun to negotiate trade agreements among themselves. This shift is likely to have major implications for the multilateral trading system and for the large number of countries that are excluded from deep regional agreements. Without active engagement by the countries that have the greatest stake in an effective multilateral trading system to pursue new approaches to reduce trade barriers and trade costs for business the WTO risks becoming increasingly less relevant. This session will discuss opportunities and ideas for new approaches towards multilateral trade cooperation in the WTO that could re-vitalize interest and engagement by business. Speakers will discuss where a multilateral approach continues to have a clear potential advantage in addressing policy barriers to trade and investment; what the design and content of recent regional trade initiatives suggest for changes in the approaches used for rule-making efforts and implementation in the WTO; and the scope for innovative leadership and engagement by middle income countries in the WTO.