WTO Project: restoring multilateral trade cooperation – about

Photo © Jay Louvion, Studio Casagrande

A new project, coordinated by SAIIA, is exploring how multilateral trade negotiations can be revitalised to overcome both existing and emerging challenges.

Background to the Project

As the World Trade Organization enters a period of adjustment after the Bali package negotiated in December 2013, which included a new trade facilitation accord, there is a need to search for new ideas that can assist in revitalising multilateral trade negotiations. These negotiations must face numerous established challenges, while also adapting to emerging trends in global trade. The continued importance of Global Value Chains, for example, could increase the benefits associated with further integration of the world economy, while at the same time challenging those marginal to them. Many countries also have to adapt to the rise of mega-regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), such as the Transpacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which threaten to distract the advanced economies from participation in WTO negotiations and institutions.

This World Bank-funded project, initiated by the Cordell Hull Institute and coordinated by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in partnership with a network of primarily developing-world think tanks, aims to examine what these changes mean for global trade, and how negotiations can be realigned to overcome new and established challenges. A series of expert roundtables has been – and will be – convened in major emerging economies, and has produced a number of publications that will feed into multilateral trade negotiations.

After the three successful roundtables hosted in South Korea, Brazil and South Africa, the project is now moving into its second phase, which will focus primarily on dissemination activities and further developing the ideas from the first year. This will be through a process of both dissemination events and other discussion roundtables. The second phase will kick off with a dissemination and discussion event that will be held on the margins of the WTO Public Forum in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2014. For information on other events and roundtables, please see the menus to the right.

Watch a 5-minute introduction to the project, ‘Restoring Multilateral Trade Co-operation