10-12 September 2007 — Geneva, Switzerland

Conference on “Multilateralising Regionalism”

Sponsored and organized by WTO — HEI Co-organized by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).

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The explosion of regional agreements in many parts of the world over the last decade and a half raises important questions about what this trend means for multilateral trade relations in an increasingly globalized world. There is much literature that seeks to explain and understand what motivates regionalism. But little has been written about the consequences for future trade relations of a continued splintering of trading arrangements into dozens of often overlapping and potentially inconsistent agreements. Is there a point at which this process finds its own saturation level? Or will the political and economic costs of increasing fragmentation lead to a reversal of regionalism?

Multilateralising Regionalism is a two and a half day conference dedicated to exploring these issues, and in particular, the relationship between regionalism and the multilateral trading system. The first two days of the conference will explore how regional trade agreements might be tamed through a multilaterally based approach to redefining trade cooperation. The final half day will consist of a high-level discussion by policymakers and scholars of the issues teased out in the first part of the conference.

The published output from the conference will include a short monograph summarizing the conference findings, together with a conference volume containing the papers prepared for the conference and discussants' comments. The conference volume will also contain a paper surveying the current situation regarding regional and bilateral trade agreements. This paper will be prepared by WTO Secretariat staff.


The conference is jointly organised by the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, and the WTO Secretariat with the help of CEPR. It is financed by the generous support of HEI, the Swiss Government (SECO), the NCCR Trade project (IP3), the UK's Department of Industry and Trade, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and CEPR.


Programme back to top

Monday 10 September

08:30 – 09:00

Registration at WTO. Venue: CRII

09:00 – 09:20 Welcome and opening remarks
Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO
Philippe Burrin, Director, Graduate Institute of International Studies
09:20 – 09:40 A brief introduction to the issues
Richard Baldwin, Graduate Institute of International Studies
Taming Tangles: Lessons and Challenges
Session Chair: Simon Evenett, University of St. Gallen
09:40 – 10:40 Multilateralising Regionalism: Relaxing Rules of Origin
Michael Gasiorek, University of Sussex
Discussant: Vera Thorstensen, Chairperson, WTO Committee on Rules of Origin
10:40 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:00 The Information Technology Agreement: Sui Generis or Model Stepping Stone?
Written by: Catherine Mann, Brandeis University, Xuepeng Liu, Kennesaw State University
Presented by: Chad Bown, Brandeis University
Discussant: Alejandro Jara, Deputy Director-General, WTO Secretariat
12:00 – 13:00 Fitting Asia-Pacific Agreements into the WTO System
Gary Hufbauer, Peterson Institute for International Economics
Jeffrey Shott, Peterson Institute for International Economics
Discussant: Joe Francois, Linz University
13:00 – 14:30 Lunch (own arrangements)
Session Chair: L. Alan Winters, University of Sussex
14:30 – 15:30 Multilateralising Regionalism: Case Study of African Regionalism
Peter Draper and Mzukisi Qobo, South African Institute of International Affairs
Discussant: Cédric Dupont, Graduate Institute of International Studies
15.30 – 16:30 Multilateralising RTAs in the Americas
Antoni Estevadeordal and Kati Suominen, Inter-American Development Bank
Discussant: Marcelo Olarreaga, University of Geneva
16:30 – 16:50 Break
16:50 – 17:50 Services Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements: Stumbling or Building Blocks for Multilateral Liberalization?
Carsten Fink, World Bank
Marion Jansen, WTO Secretariat
Discussant: Juan Marchetti, WTO Secretariat
17:50 End of First Day


Tuesday 11 September

Some specific issues

Session Chair: Gary Hufbauer, Petersen Institute for International Economics

09:00 – 10:00

A Private Sector Perspective: Living with Regionalism
Michael Treschow, Chairman of the Board, Ericsson

10:00 – 11:00 Harmonizing Preferential Rules of Origin Regimes around the World
Antoni Estevadeordal, Jeremy Harris and Kati Suominen, Inter-American
Development Bank
Discussant: Olivier Cadot, Université de Lausanne
11:00 – 11:20 Break
11:20 – 12:20 Beyond Tariffs: Multilaterising Deeper RTA Commitments
Richard Baldwin, Graduate Institute of International Studies and CEPR
Simon Evenett, University of St Gallen
Patrick Low, WTO Secretariat
Discussant: Sébastien Miroudot, OECD
12:20 – 13:50 Lunch (own arrangements)
13:50 – 14:20 Introduction: Philippe Burrin, Director, Graduate Institute of International Studies
Keynote Speech Jean-Daniel Gerber, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Switzerland
Session Chair: Alejandro Jara, Deputy Director-General, WTO Secretariat
14:20 – 15:20 Multilateralising Regional Trade Arrangements in Asia
Masahiro Kawai, Asian Development Bank Institute
Ganesh Wignaraja, Asian Development Bank
Discussant: Inkyo Cheong, Inha University, Korea

Some Systemic Issues

15:20 – 16:20 Legal Avenues to “Multilateralising Regionalism”: Beyond Article XXIV
Joost Pauwelyn, Graduate Institute of International Studies
Discussant: Roderick Abbott, European Centre for International Political Economy
16:20 – 16:40 Break
16:40 – 17:40 Multilateralizing ‘Deep Regional Integration’: A Developing Country Perspective
Written by: Bernard Hoekman, World Bank and L Alan Winters, University of Sussex
Presented by: L Alan Winters, University of Sussex
Discussant: Philip I Levy, Yale University
17:40 – 18:40 The Challenge of Negotiating RTA’s for Developing Countries: What Could the WTO do to Help?
Jim Rollo, University of Sussex
Discussant: Claude Barfield, American Enterprise Institute
18:40 End of Second Day
19:00 HEI Reception for the Geneva trade community, (venue HEI)
Introduction: Alexander Swoboda, Graduate Institute of International Studies.
Keynote speech: Coping with the Pandemic of Preferential Trade Agreements: What will work? Jagdish Bhagwati,
Columbia University and Council of Foreign Relations


Wednesday 12 September

09:30 – 10:00 Report to the high-level segment from the conference
Patrick Low, WTO Secretariat
Audio   > help
10:00 – 12:30 Roundtable open debate
Chair: Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO
Academic panellists:
Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University and Council of Foreign Relations
Richard Baldwin, Graduate Institute of International Studies
Panellists from delegations:
H.E. Ambassador Arsene Balihuta, Permanent Mission of Uganda
H.E. Ambassador Eirik Glenne, Permanent Mission of Norway
H.E. Ambassador Mario Matus, Permanent Mission of Chile
H.E. Ambassador Sun Zhenyu, Permanent Mision of China
 Audio: part 1 > Audio: part 2   > help
12:30 Closing Remarks
Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO
Audio   > help