Global trading system in crisis

Politics and administration

Strengthening international collaboration

Which factors influence and endanger the multilateral trade system? This was the focus of the World Trade Forum 2019, which was conducted by the World Trade Institute of the University of Bern. During the two-day congress, more than 160 trade experts from practice, academia and administration, from NGOs, international organizations and private business addressed the crisis of the multilateral system and discussed these with an eye to the political, economic and social effects. As in previous years, the contributions at the World Trade Forum 2019 are compiled and published in book form by Cambridge University Press.

New ideas are needed

A wide range of ideas was presented and developed in the debates with a particular focus on how to adapt the regulations. Peter van den Bossche, Professor and Director of Studies at the World Trade Institute, explained that it is true that multilateralism is at risk, but that this crisis offers a unique opportunity to look forward and face the demands of the 21st century.

Did you know?

"Peter Van Den Bossche, Director of Studies and Professor of International Economic Law at the World Trade Institute of the University of Bern, was a member of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization from 2009 to 2017."

Climate change, China, developing countries

Various rounds of discussions took place during the forum. One topic was the crisis in international dispute settlement – especially the WTO’s arbitration mechanism. There was a debate on how trade and investment policy instruments can support the fight against climate change. And finally, the participants discussed the extent to which the Chinese model is compatible with world trade law. Furthermore, an important subject was the status of developing countries in the global economic system. The focus was on development strategies and the analysis of the meaning of the term «developing country».

Commitment to social justice

The sixth World Trade Forum also addressed the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization (ILO) – founded in 1919 at the Peace Treaty in Versailles. A panel discussed successes, effectiveness and challenges for the ILO due to technological change, digitalization, climate change and the precarization of work. The prevailing opinion was that the ILO still plays an important role in terms of global social justice but that it should become more efficient.

Competence center

World Trade Institute

With the World Trade Institute, the University of Bern has a unique, interdisciplinary center which conducts research on international trade and investment issues as well as sustainability. In addition, it offers teaching and training on matters of economic globalization. The World Trade Forum, organized annually together with the European University Institute (EUI), Florence, and the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS), is a platform for discussing matters of world trade and international trade regulation.