‘Like-mindedness’ and International Trade

A workshop on the topic of “‘Like-mindedness’ and International Trade” will be held with experts from different academic and policy perspectives at the Centre William Rappard, headquarters of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), on 3 June 2016 from 14:00-18:00.

See the programme below.

This exploratory workshop will consider international trade cooperation on the basis of “like-mindedness”. Deepening global economic integration has increased the ‘system friction’ associated with countries’ differing economic structures and social values – and generated pressure to manage or reduce these differences through trade agreements. In recent years, groups of “like-minded” countries have pursued deeper trade liberalization and more advanced rule-making via regional and plurilateral initiatives with the aim of harmonizing or streamlining ‘inside-the-border’ regulatory policies, as well as reducing remaining border barriers.

Although such policies increasingly impact trade, most were made for reasons unrelated to trade and reflect broad values, societal preferences, and regime types among countries. This situation raises larger questions about how, and to what extent, systemically diverse countries can continue to advance trade cooperation and economic integration in inclusive, coherent, and non-discriminatory ways. More specifically:

  • Are ‘inside-the-border’ regulatory issues resolved more readily among “like-minded” countries in regional and plurilateral fora? What is the evidence to date?
  • Does negotiating such issues require approaches that go beyond the ‘exchange of concessions’ of trade liberalizations in past? What lessons might be drawn from the approaches used in the TPP or CEFTA? Do the WTO’s recent trade facilitation negotiations offer insights?
  • Given that international trade cooperation increasingly involves non-trade concerns – such as health standards, environmental policies, and financial regulation – are new forms of collaboration and ‘coherence’ required among international organizations?

The workshop is intended to appeal to those in ‘international and intellectual Geneva’ who are interested in international trade relations. Its sessions will consist of interventions and discussions. Chatham House rules apply. Interveners are drawn from local IGOs, NGOs, and diplomatic missions, as well as from academia. In order to facilitate discussions, additional participation at the workshop will be limited to the first 25 people registering. Please register under <Thomas.Burri@unisg.ch>.

Co-organised by:

- Thomas Burri, Assistant Professor, international law and European law, University of St. Gallen;

- Malcolm MacLaren, Privatdozent, Institute for Public International and Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Zurich 

N.B.: The WTO, by making its premises available for the workshop, is not endorsing any viewpoints expressed in conjunction with it. 

The workshop is financed by an International Geneva Incubator Workshop Grant from the Swiss Network for International Studies.

Thomas Burri,
May 24, 2016, 6:52 AM