The annual conference has continued to attract growing interest and sources of funding since the first phase of the WTO Chairs Programme ended in 2013. The conference was preceded by a Call for Papers.
Maarten Smeets from the WTO’s Institute of Training and Technical Cooperation delivered a lecture for PhD students on 10 October on how a new world trading system is taking shape with a view to achieving sustainable development. This was followed by a lively questions and answers session.
Marc Auboin from the WTO’s Economic Research and Statistics Division presented a keynote lecture entitled "Trade finance in periods of crisis: What have we learned in recent years". He reviewed the initiatives of public and private institutions (in particular, the G-20 initiatives to which the WTO was closely associated) aimed at minimizing the impact of the 2008-09 financial crisis on the supply of trade finance. He highlighted that among the policy lessons to be learned is that trade finance can be severely affected by the contagion of financial crises, with potentially very harmful spill-overs for global trade as a result of a drying- up of trade financing.
Mr Auboin said that the public sector had stepped in, with coordinated action mainly by multilateral development banks (the World Bank Group and regional development institutions) and export credit agencies. Guarantees on international trade payments are important during such periods, when the perception of risk is high – probably higher than the actual level of risk. Public guarantees can be necessary to avoid a dislocation of supply chains between suppliers and buyers. Other policy lessons are also examined in his paper, which was published in the newly created St Petersburg Review of International Economics.