The multilateral trade regime is facing challenges. These include sustaining the open, rules-based trading system that is embodied in the WTO, responding to rising protectionist pressures and anti-free trade rhetoric, managing the consequences of structural changes in the world economy, and a shift by major countries towards negotiating and expanding regional trade agreements (RTAs) that pose challenges to the multilateral trading system and are diverting attention away from multilateral cooperation. It is vital that solutions to these challenges are found in order to preserve the multilateral trading system that lies at the heart of world trade governance and to ensure that trade can continue to be a driver of development, growth and prosperity.


The Global Economic Dynamics Project (GED) of the Bertelsmann Stiftung has brought together a small group of distinguished practitioners and experts to consider incremental and feasible approaches to both sustain and revitalize multilateral trade cooperation. The High-Level Board of Experts on the Future of Trade Governance will focus on the future of the multilateral trading system, its coexistence with regional trade regimes and practical paths forward that build on what already exists.


The Board held an initial meeting in Geneva on May 9-10 to identify a work agenda. The output will include a series of practical recommendations and papers in time for the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference, culminating in a main report to be finalized in early 2018.