The three day conference on “The Forces Shaping World Trade” provides an opportunity for a range of participants to express their views on the many forces that are changing trade and to organize their own sessions.

“World trade has undergone major changes since the establishment of the WTO some 15 years ago,” WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy says in his introduction to the conference.

Among them, he lists fast-growing emerging economies taking their place beside traditional powers, new technologies changing the face of business and the way people interact, new issues that have changed the public perception of trade, and the challenges posed by the financial crisis.

The focus this year is on four core themes.

  • The WTO and the players that influence the multilateral trading system

  • The economic, political and technological factors shaping world trade and the role of the rules-based multilateral trading system in contributing to the global economic recovery

  • Coherence between the WTO and other areas of global governance

  • Looking to the future: What post-crisis agenda for the WTO in a shifting-power scenario?

Kicking off the conference will be a session involving some important actors and thinkers on the subject. WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, Former Deputy Prime Minister Dame Billie Miller of Barbados, Oxfam Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs, Former President Festus Mogae of Botswana, Tata Motors Vice-Chairman Ravi Kant, Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator Gideon Rachman will look at how to use the forces shaping trade in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Setting the scene on the second day an equally distinguished panel will examine a different perspective on how to reshape world trade: the role of women. It features, Former Deputy Prime Minister Dame Billie Miller of Barbados, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, ArcelorMittal of South Africa’s CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heit, WTO Deputy-Director-General Valentine Rugwabiza and O Globo journalist Deborah Berlinck.


The annual WTO Public Forum, launched in 2001, provides a platform for public discussion across a wide range of WTO issues and activities, including the current Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Since then the Forum has become one of the most important opportunities for dialogue between a range of participants and governments.

It is now a significant feature of the international calendar. Over the years, 8,500 representatives of civil society, academia, business, the media, governments and inter-governmental organizations including regional economic and development organizations, attended the Public Forum.

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