Room CRI, WTO Headquarters, 30 September 2009
European Parliament's logo
Organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament

WTO logo Over recent years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has established a tradition of holding annual public events where participants from government, parliament, civil society, the business sector, academia and the media jointly reflect upon the functioning of the multilateral trading system and analyse the institutional state of the WTO. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has been associated with WTO public forums on a number of occasions, having organized parliamentary events within their overall programme.

WTO Public Forum 2009 was held on WTO premises in Geneva from 28 and 30 September, under the overall theme Global Problems, Global Solutions: Towards Better Global Governance. As part of the Forum's programme, which included a great number of separate events, the IPU and the European Parliament organized a Parliamentary Panel entitled Can protectionism protect trade? The legislator's perspective.

As the world is mired deeper into the economic crisis and collapsing international trade, parliaments are faced with pressures from various sectors of the economy and the population who demand protection from economic hardship and social recession. What room for manoeuvre is there for policymakers to support national producers without awakening the demons of all-out protectionism? What is the responsibility of parliaments in the face of trade-restricting measures taken by other countries that appear to be merely shifting their problems to their neighbours? How to ensure uninterrupted aid-for-trade flows to developing countries and in particular the least developed nations, which bear no responsibility for the current economic crisis but rely heavily on exports to drive their growth? What is the role of the WTO in providing a mechanism to monitor trade and trade-related measures taken in the context of the crisis, and how can legislators make effective use of this mechanism?

Parliamentarians have a major stake in the success of coordinated international efforts to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis. Their role is to ensure accountability in the way nations are governed and to provide - as part of the system of checks and balances - essential scrutiny of government policies, commitments and plans, including in the area of international trade. The best kind of support a parliament can offer to its government is, in fact, stringent oversight. The panel considered, from a parliamentary perspective, policy responses to growing pressures to restrict trade as a way of surviving the global crisis.

The panel took place on Wednesday, 30 September 2009, from 9 to 11 a.m. in Room CRI at WTO Headquarters (Centre William Rappard). The panel was open to all parliamentarians and other participants duly accredited to the WTO Forum, subject to the limits of the room's seating capacity. Interpretation into English, French and Spanish was provided by the WTO Secretariat.

Updated on 17 October 2009   
ReportPDF [English] [French]
Invitation to the Parliamentary Panel to be held on 30 September 2009PDF [English] [French]
WTO Public Forum 2009 (main page)HTML [English] [French]
Annual 2008 session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTOHTML [English] [French]
Panel Discussion "Trade and climate change: Is trade killing our planet?" held within the framework of the WTO Public Forum 2007HTML [English] [French]
Panel Discussion "The perceived loss of "sovereignty" due to WTO accords: should parliamentarians be concerned?" held within the framework of the WTO Public Symposium 2005HTML [English] [French]
Panel Discussion "Parliaments and the WTO" held within the framework of the WTO Public Symposium 2003HTML [English] [French]

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Updated on 24 September 2009   
09:00 - 11:00
WTO Headquarters
Room CRI
Can protectionism protect trade? The legislator's perspective.
  • Mr. Ram Etwareea, journalist, "Le Temps"
  • Mr. Vital Moreira, Chairman of the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament
  • Mr. Jacques Bourgeois, MP (Switzerland), Director of the Swiss Union of Farmers
  • Mr. Shakeel Mohamed, MP (Mauritius)
  • Mr. James Bacchus, former Chairman of the WTO Appellate Body, former member of the US Congress

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