By HE Mr Roberto Carvalho de Azevédo, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO)
[By Invitation Only]
Date: 20 May 2015
Venue: ISIS Conference Room, Kuala Lumpur
The WTO is the only body responsible for the regulation of international trade and its role in promoting trade has also been critical. In this capacity, it has ensured greater liberalisation, transparency, predictability, non-discrimination, dispute settlement and, more generally, holding protectionism at bay. Two-thirds of its members are developing countries. The organization has had its detractors, from those that see it as a too powerful promoter of globalization and advanced countries’ interests, to those who see it as not powerful enough to resist rising protectionism or avert trade wars. In recent times, however, the WTO has ceased even to be controversial. It is neither the focus nor features in any of the major trade initiatives of the present. So what exactly does the future hold in store for the WTO? Can the institution be revived and, with it, multilateralism, or is the world destined for ever greater regional fragmentation and blocs? How will the WTO recapture the interest of members and their private sectors?