Past Event

The current state and future of the world trading system

This event discussed the current state of the multilateral trading system and how it might evolve in the future.

Date: April 19, 2018, 12:30 pm Topic: Global Economics & Governance

VIDEO & AUDIO RECORDINGS


SUMMARY

At this event, panellists shared and discussed their view on the current state of the multilateral trading system and possible ways forward.
Xia Xiang highlighted that the multilateral trading system is made by commitments to rules of all members, and it is naturally challenged by unilateralist measures. He added that China is both a beneficiary and a driving force of the global economy, has accepted the rules of the game, in particular when accessing the WTO, and has been promoting them over time. This is because the world economy is irreversibly globalized, and a multilateral system is a natural institution that guarantees prosperity.

Everton Vargas argued that the economy would be worse off without the WTO, whose benefits are built from consensus-based rules, and despite a sense of disappointment arising from the recent lack of multilateral results, no major disruptions have taken place. He stressed that unilateral measures are not a solution to the problems they seek to address and are against the natural course of action in a multilateral system. He pointed to a comprehensive discussion to define a trade agenda as a possible way forward (for Brazil, reform of agricultural disciplines remains a priority). He also addressed the risk of paralysis of the dispute settlement system, and temporary solutions might be advised before a final agreement is reached.
Marc Vanheukelen argued that the state of the system is critical, in all the three pillars of the WTO. However, a crisis may lead to addressing the underlying problems, even if it hard to get consensus. This is central in his view as unilateralism as an alternative to consensus-based rules might lead to trade wars. He also stressed that while there are big players, all members should play a role. He pointed to open plurilateral agreements of a critical mass as a valid alternative if first-best (multilateral) outcomes are not feasible.

André Sapir argued that we should not be surprised of the poor state of the system, as a great transformation, induced by globalization, led to redistributions between and within countries. Within the backdrop of the Great Recession, this created discontent among many, which started demanding populism, which in turn is often accompanied by protectionism. Moreover, he stressed that we should be worried, as the multilateral system can be regarded as a common good, and we stand to lose in case of disruptions. Finally, he argued that in order to tackle critical issues, leadership and serious actions are needed. Priority should be with the rules part of the WTO and their certainty, as well as on the dispute settlement.

The discussion highlighted several issues including, among others, subsidy disciplines (legal if conformed to WTO rules, but there is scope for higher transparency), reduction of steel overcapacity (minimizing social costs), plurilaterals (maybe a result of the abuse of the consensus rule, which may have contributed to the paralysis of negotiating functions of the system), national security for steel (critical, as either way WTO ruling goes, it might trigger strong reactions), and compatibility of economic models (as economic diversity should be accommodated in a rules-bbased system).

Event notes by Francesco Chiacchio

 

Schedule

Apr 19, 2018

12:30-13:00

Check-in and lunch

13:00-14:00

Panel discussion

Chair: Iana Dreyer, Founder and editor of Borderlex

André Sapir, Senior Fellow

Marc Vanheukelen, Ambassador of the EU to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva

Everton Vargas, Ambassador of Brazil to the EU

Xia Xiang, Minister, Economic & Commercial Affairs, the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the EU

14:00-14:30

Q&A

14:30

End

Speakers

Iana Dreyer

Founder and editor of Borderlex

Marc Vanheukelen

Ambassador of the EU to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva

Everton Vargas

Ambassador of Brazil to the EU

André Sapir

Senior Fellow

Xia Xiang

Minister, Economic & Commercial Affairs, the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the EU

Location & Contact

Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels

Matilda Sevon

matilda.sevon@bruegel.org

Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

The 4th industrial revolution: opportunities and challenges for Europe and China

What is the current status of EU-China relations concerning innovation, and what might their future look like?

Speakers: Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Chen Dongxiao, Patrick Child, Eric Cornuel, Maria Demertzis, Ding Yuan, Luigi Gambardella, Jiang Jianqing, Frank Kirchner, Pascal Lamy, Li Mingjun, Gwenn Sonck, Gerard Van Schaik, Reinhilde Veugelers, Wang Hongjian, Guntram B. Wolff, Xu Bin, Zhang Hongjun and Zhou Snow Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 12, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Eurozone agreement: a mini revolution?

What does the new Eurozone budget do, and what does it not do? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Speakers: Bruno Le Maire and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 8, 2019
Read about event

Upcoming Event

Sep
9
08:30

China-EU investment relations: Exploring competition and industrial policies

What parts of Sino-European cooperation are most essential for European leaders? What is the future of an EU-China partnership, and which areas are most important?

Speakers: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Tech-enabled payment processes: policy implications of new developments

What challenges does a shift towards new payment processes imply for EU financial services policy?

Speakers: Rebecca Christie, Etienne Goosse, Chirag Patel, Jörn-Jakob Röber, Johannes Vermeire and Nicolas Véron Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 25, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

How comprehensive is the EU political realignment?

Has the left-right divide become obsolete in EU politics?

Speakers: David Amiel, Otilia Dhand, Nicolas Véron and Silke Wettach Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 25, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

China’s investment in Africa: consequences for Europe

How is Chinese investment impacting Africa, and what could be the consequences for Europe?

Speakers: Solange Chatelard, Maria Demertzis, Alicia García-Herrero, Abraham Liu and Estelle Youssouffa Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 24, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Financial inclusion of SMEs for growth and job creation

How can increased access to finance benefit SMEs? What reforms are needed to encourage SME financial inclusion?

Speakers: Jihad Azour, Bruno Balvanera, Zsolt Darvas, Barbara Marchitto, Anta Ndoye and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 21, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Sound at last? Assessing a decade of financial regulation

What has changed since the financial crisis of 2008 that makes the financial system sound at last? Is regulatory reform going in the right direction? Has it run its course? 

Speakers: Patrick Bolton, Rebecca Christie, Maria Demertzis, Mathias Dewatripont and Xavier Vives Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 20, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

What reforms for Europe's Monetary Union: a view from Spain

How is a successful European Monetary Union still possible in today's ever-shifting political landscape? What reforms need to occur in order to guarantee success of cohesive policies?

Speakers: Fernando Fernández, José Carlos García de Quevedo, Gabriele Giudice, Inês Goncalves Raposo, Javier Méndez Llera and Isabel Riaño Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 19, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Role of national structural reforms in enhancing resilience in the Euro Area

At this event Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist at the IMF will discuss the role of national structural reforms in enhancing resilience in the Euro Area.

Speakers: Shekhar Aiyar, Maria Demertzis, Romain Duval, Gita Gopinath and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 17, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Past, present, and future EU trade policy: a conversation with Commissioner Malmström

What was trade policy during the last European Commission? What will be the future of European trade under the next Commission?

Speakers: Cecilia Malmström, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 13, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Working Paper

China and the world trade organisation: towards a better fit

China’s participation in the WTO has been anything but smooth, as its self-proclaimed socialist market economy system has alienated its trading partners. The WTO needs to translate some of its implicit legal understanding into explicit treaty language, in order to retain its principles while accommodating China.

By: Petros C. Mavroidis and André Sapir Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: June 13, 2019
Load more posts