The global trade agenda - Leadership, challenges and opportunities

21 April 2017

In the last two decades, global trade has moved away from the multilateral and non-discriminatory framework of the GATT/WTO in favour of regional or bilateral trade agreements. This trend has coincided with the broadening in scope of trade deals including to areas such as non-tariff barriers to trade, regulations and investment protection, as experienced in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). However, recent political developments (e.g. opposition to CETA and TTIP in the EU and US President Donald Trump’s decision to formally withdraw the US from the TPP) indicate that support for large regional agreements is waning and suggest the possible resurgence of a more protectionist agenda. These developments put into question the level of commitment towards free trade on the part of major actors and organisations and their role in co-shaping the future of global economic governance.

This Policy Dialogue, organised with the kind support of the Mission of Japan to the European Union, discussed the future of global trade governance and the role of the World Trade Organization in providing a rules-based framework for international economic relations.

Speakers included: Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive and Chief Economist at the European Policy Centre, Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen, Permanent Representation of the European Union to the WTO, Daniel Ikenson, Director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Shotaro Oshima, Chairman of the Institute for International Economic Studies, Jim Rollo, Associate Fellow of International Economics at Chatham House